Both Virginia and national laws provide stringent measures to avoid repeat offenses on minors. One of the steps that the state of Virginia has established is setting up a registry that includes information about individuals convicted of sexual crimes. The registry can provide information about a past sex offender convict rendering him or her any opportunities now or in the future. Hiring the experienced Virginia Criminal Attorney would be the best option in ensuring that your petition for removal from the registry is successful.
Understanding Va. Code 9.1-900
Virginia legislators approved the Sex Offender and Crimes against Minors Registry Act back in 2003. According to this Act, anyone sentenced on 1st July 1994 or later for crimes listed under this Act should list with the Virginia State Police. The Virginia State Police is responsible for maintaining the registry. Anyone eligible for the registration should register with the law enforcement services in the county or city they are living in once they are released from prison.
The registry assists law enforcement services in protecting the community and families from sex offenders and protect minors from being victims of criminal offenders by preventing such people near children.
Offenses Requiring Registration
Not all crimes are eligible for registration, but some sexual offenses and homicide offenses require registration. Any of the statutorily listed crimes listed below require registration.
- Committing the actual violation, conspiring or attempting to commit a sexual offense with carnal knowledge that the minor is of the age of 13-15
- Attempting, conspiring or committing a sexual crime with the carnal knowledge that the target is a minor
- Conspiring, trying or breaking into a house to commit rape or any offense listed in the statute
- A felony violation of prostitution or commercially exploiting a minor
- Taking a minor to a bawdy place to engage him or her into prostitution
- Commercially sex trafficking a minor
- Second offenses related to possessing, reproducing, soliciting, of facilitating child pornography
- Computer soliciting a child for sexual intention
- A third or subsequent conviction for sexual abuse, battering a child below fifteen years
- Mouth penetration with lascivious intention
- Aggravated malicious wounding a defendant who is eighteen years or older or a victim below the age of thirteen
- Receiving money from a minor procuring for sexual intention
- Receiving money earned from juvenile prostitution
- Criminal homicide
Prohibited Activities Under Virginia Sex Crimes and Crimes Against Minors
Any offender registered under the registry is prohibited from doing certain activities. These prohibited activities include:
- Living within 500 feet from a primary, daycare center, public park, secondary, or high school, or a place which is regular with school activities
- A prohibition from loitering within 100 feet or any premises that the offender knows is a child day program, a primary, secondary school, high school or a place where there is contact with children
- A prohibition from entering or being present during school hours, school-sponsored activities, and school-related services
- A ban from any public property during periods when the property is used for public activities
- A prohibition from entering into a school bus.
The prohibition also governs sex offenders from working or living within proximity to school and daycare facilities that are found under the following statutes.
- Code 18.2-370.2 – Sex offenses that prohibit proximity to children
- Code 18.2-370.3 – Sex offenses that prohibit residence near children
- Code 18.2-370.4- Sex offenses that prohibit working in a school property
- Code 18.2-370.5 – Sex offenses that prevent entry into a school property
History of Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry
The sex offender registry came after the Adam Walsh Act was signed in 2006. The abduction and murder of Adam Walsh in 1981 prompted the formation of the Act. His killer was apprehended after twenty-seven years. Meanwhile, John Walsh (Adam Walsh's father) had become a renowned patron for minors who are missing and being exploited. John Walsh was even hosted in a renowned television "America's Most Wanted," which features crime committed by a fugitive. As a result, a lot of criminals were apprehended and prosecuted.
The Act, referred to as Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), provides uniform guidelines for sex offenders regardless of state. The Act requires all states to widen the number of offenses that should be captured, including certain juvenile crimes. The Act has adopted a structured risk assessment tool that distinguishes high and low-risk individuals and the period that information about the offenders can be captured in the registry.
Under the Act, there are three tiers of registration that offenders should consider. These tiers are as follows:
- Tier 1: A requirement to register for fifteen years with the chance of being taken off the registry after ten years
- Tier 2: A requirement for registration for twenty-five years without any possibility of early removal
- Tier 3: A requirement for registration for life. Adults have no chance of removal, but juvenile offenders may petition for removal after twenty-five years.
Essential Amendments in the National Sex Offender Registry
Since the inception of SORNA, a couple of amendments have been made to improve the registry's effectiveness. These crucial amendments are as follows:
Keeping the Internet Devoid of Predators Act (KIDS Act)
This Act was issued to address issues related to online safety. The Act prompted the following amendments to SORNA:
- Expected jurisdictions to take note of internet identifiers of sex offenders while they are making their registration
- Absolved publicizing internet identifiers on a registrant when registering them on the public registry
Military Sex Offender Reporting Act
The Military Sex Offender Reporting Act is one of the segments of the 2015 Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The Act mandated the Department of Defense to provide details on sex offenders convicted under the court-martial to NSOPW and NSOR
International Megan's Law
International Megan's Law was meant to control how registered offenders would travel internationally. It highlighted the following changes:
- Expected offenders to notify the right authority for any international travel
- Expected authorities to provide information about any international travel of registered offenders within their jurisdiction.
Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry in Virginia
In Virginia, registration in the registry uses a two-tier approach, which is considered as the violent and the non-violent tiers.
In the violent tier, crimes such as sexually violent offenses and murder for a victim below fifteen years or under eighteen years, which is sexually related, should be registered for life without removal.
For the non-violent tiers, crimes that can be registered and fall under the sexually violent offense or manslaughter where the child's death rose from the delinquency of a child or abuse and neglecting a minor. In this tier, offenders are placed in the registry until they have the petition removed. Most offenders can have the request after fifteen years, while other classes of offenses can wait until twenty-five years and twenty-five years. For individuals convicted with multiple convictions, they will have the registration requirement for a lifetime.
Requirements for Virginia Sex Offenders and Crimes Registry
It is the responsibility of an offender to register with the Virginia State Police, or your law enforcement agency within your residence. You have to submit a new SP-236 registration form with prints based on the following instances:
- Registration in three days after release from detention in any form of a correctional facility under the sexually violent predators programs. The offender should also register even when there is no imposing in three days of the suspension sentence in a case that involves juvenile of constitutional
- Register within three days after an additional conviction or suspended sentence for a conviction provided on the back of SP-236 form
- Registration within three days after changing residence or mailing address within Virginia. This includes a situation where one becomes homeless
- Register within ten days before changing residence outside Virginia
- Register within three days after changing employment regardless of whether it is within or outside Virginia. This applies even when one loses a job, retires, becomes disabled or starts a new job
- Register within three days after release from a correctional facility, community supervision, or jail. This applies to people who are on probation and parole
- Register within three days after changing your name through a court order
- Register within three days once you change your vehicle registration information such as license plate number when trading, selling, or disposing of any vehicle you own or have a title on. This also includes watercraft or aircraft
- Register within three days after enrolling, quitting, or graduating from a higher learning institution. This includes post-secondary school, professional institution, trade school, or higher education
- Register within thirty minutes once you change your email address, instant messaging address, Internet electronic communication name or chat screen name or information you intend to use. You can do this by submitting your information by e-mail to the Virginia State Police Website. The offender should follow the instructions for providing the information through the "change of Electronic Communication" tab. You can do this in person through your local law enforcement service by sending a filled SP-236 form with your new information
- You should be photographed by the Virginia State Police or law enforcement agency after every two years of your initial registration.
- Register once per year if you are a registered sex offender and classified as a sexual. If you are convicted for failing to register, you have to register after every 180 days
- Register within ninety days if you are classified as a sexual, violent offender. A Convict who fails to register should change the information every thirty days.
A registered sexual offender should inform the state about the intention to travel abroad within 21 days before traveling. The information will be transmitted to the United States Marshals Service after providing the required data to the right law enforcement officials, such as state trooper, compliance officer, probation, or parole officer.
Procedures During and After Registration in the Sex Offenders and Crimes Registry
While registering with the registry, you should visit the police or the sheriff's office to present proof of residence, fingerprints, and two photographs. You will also have to provide DNA samples that will go to the DNA data-bank, submit your e-mail address, instant messaging address, and Internet user ID. Your local agency will then forward the details to the State Police.
Once you have registered according to the statute's requirement, you will be expecting state police servicemen to come to your doorstep twice every year. While the servicemen come to your residence, they will be confirming whether you are following the requirements provided in the registry. If you are not at home and another person answers your doors, the state servicemen should leave their name card and ask you to reach out to them once you get the card.
The servicemen can also visit your registered job and will have their full uniform to ensure that everyone sees them. Any registrant who disregards the request from the troopers will face severe outcomes for violating the requirements provided by the state.
Requirements for Recipients of Registry Information
Since the local schools are significantly associated with the information provided by the sex offenders and crime registry. Local school boards are expected to receive electronic notice of sex offenders within the school division. The school board should also devise and implement policies that will provide information to parents regarding the registry's sex offenders' information.
For public or private institutions, they have to transmit their enrollment list to the State Police for comparison with the offenders' registry. The Department of Motor Vehicles is required to send your application information and change of address information to the State Police. If you provide the wrong information related to your driver's license renewal, this will make you eligible for a Class 4 felony.
Challenges of the Sex Offenders Registry
One of the most challenging things that registered sex offenders undergo is the changing requirements that pop out unexpectedly. This burdens the registrants in avoiding making mistakes that would prevent them from failing to comply with the registry laws. As there are changes experienced, the law enforcement agency within your jurisdiction will require you to comply with the requirements.
In case you violate these requirements, you might be charged with a separate crime for non-compliant with sex registry requirements. The charges are incredibly stressful and can end up in defeat.
Also, the registry does not adequately differentiate the severity of the offenses. In most cases, a person convicted with a lesser sex offense is grouped to a person who is deemed as a sexual predator or someone who has committed rape. In such a case, they end up facing similar social challenges, such as lack of housing or employment options, which seems unfair.
Challenges on Interstate Travel
Since SORNA works across all states, there are chances of affecting people moving from one state to another. Based on the classification of sex offenses in different states, there are chances of facing problems when moving from one state to another. For instance, a crime registered as a non-violent in Idaho is considered a violent offense in Virginia. In that case, if you are planning to move to Virginia permanently, you will have to register as a violent offender, which attracts a significant penalty.
Challenges on International Travel
In 2016, the US State Department began revoking passports belonging to registered child sex offenders. The changes were made after the passing of International Megan's law. Under this law, registered sex offenders will have to apply for new passports with identifiers that show that they are registered child sex offenders. The new passports are expected to have a statement printed inside the back of the cover that reads, "The bearer of was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender under the 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(1)."
Please note, the new law does not prohibit the child sex offender t leave the country. However, the identifying passport would likely prevent an affected person from entering other countries. The only convicted person who cannot get a passport is someone convicted of sex tourism crimes.
Despite the lack of international travel restrictions, however, registrants have reported being held in airports when they are forced into secondary screening while waiting to get back to the United States due to their status.
Penalties for Failing to Register with the Registry
Failing to register will be considered as a Class 1 misdemeanor under Va. Code 18.2-472.1. When you fail to register for the first time and the offender has been convicted for a non-violent offense, you will face a typical Class 1 misdemeanor penalty. This includes a maximum of 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
For a second or subsequent failure to register for a non-violent conviction, the offense will be considered as a Class 6 felony. This is punishable by one to five years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,500. The judge or jury has the discretion of sentencing you to less than twelve months.
If you are convicted for violent sex offense or murder, failure to register or provide false information makes you eligible for a Class 6 felony. A second or subsequent conviction will be considered as a Class 5 felony. This imposes you to a maximum of ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500. You might receive less than twelve months if the judge finds a lighter sentence to be appropriate.
Removal from Sex Offender Registry in Virginia
Under Va. Code 9.1-910, a registered offender in the sex offender registry, can have his or her name and information removed from the registry. For an offender to be removed, he or she should complete all the court-ordered counseling, pay all restitution, and treatment. Also, you must demonstrate to the court that you do not pose any risk to the public.
Please note, you are only eligible for removal after fifteen or twenty-five years in the registry. There is nothing that you can do about your registration if you are classified in violent offenses.
Apart from petitioning for removal, an offender can consider filing a petition to reduce the frequency required for re-registration.
The offender can also file a petition to go into a school property and re-registration of properties as required by the statute.
The Process of Sex Offenders Registry Removal
The first step of removing your details off the sex registry is gathering specific records. Critical documents needed for this process include a certified copy of your criminal conviction, which helps your attorney determine whether you are eligible for the removal.
The request is made through a petition for removal from the sex registry through a trial. A hearing is set, and your attorney will appear in court and will challenge a prosecutor for the Commonwealth in the trial. The court can then issue an Order that allows the defendant to be removed from the registry.
You should be careful with the timing and characterization of the charge to carefully review your situation and successfully petition your removal from the registry. The statute allows removal from the registry if one has fifteen or twenty-five years based on the offense you have committed.
If the court fails to grant you your petition, you will have to wait at least twenty-four months from the date of denial to file a new appeal. If your request is granted, the State Police should remove your name from the registry or any information that associates you with your sexual offense conviction.
Find a Sex Crime Attorney Near Me
Having your information in the sex offenders and crimes against minors registry can render you a lot of opportunities in your life. Since there is an opportunity to petition for removal, you need to hire the experienced Virginia Criminal Attorney to help you with the petition process. It is also essential to hire an attorney if you have violated any of the requirements provided by the registry. We have the requisite experience in legal issues related to the sex offender registry backed by our years of operation within the jurisdiction of Fairfax, VA, and Northern Virginia. Contact us today at 703-718-5533 and let us aggressively help you fight your case.