Virginia law Va. Code 16.1-278.7:02 requires the Department to give notice of sex offender and sex against minors registry requirements to certain people. Before discharging or releasing a person for whom registration with the sex offender & crimes against minors registry is required, the Department will give notice to the person. The notice entails informing the defendant about their duty to register with the state police. During the registration process, the defendants will register and avail themselves to be photographed. The defendant also provides information about his or her employment, if applicable, to the Department. The Department will acquire all the necessary information from the person, including photographs and fingerprints. The pictures must be of a kind and type approved by the Department of State Police. If you receive a notice of sex offenders in Fairfax or the Northern Virginia area and need guidance on the registration process, Virginia Criminal Attorney can guide you through the registration process.

Your Duties Regarding Registration

The Department will inform you about your duties regarding re-registration in case of an address change. Every time you change your address, you have to liaise with the Department. On the date of your discharge or release, the Department of Juvenile Justice forwards the registration information to the Department of State Police.

What happens when you need to register but fail to comply? If you fail to comply with the registration requirements, the Department will promptly investigate your case. They might also request the State Police to investigate. If it is evident that there is probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, the Department will obtain a warrant or assist in getting an indictment charging you with the violation of C 18.2-472.1.

Sex Offender Registry in Virginia

If you commit any sex crime in Virginia, including criminal crimes like rape (Va Code §18.2-61) or indecent exposure (Va Code §18.2-387), you will most likely have to register as an offender on the registry upon conviction. Having to register with the Sex Offender & Crimes Against Minors Registry, in addition to facing a likelihood of an extended prison term after conviction, could have detrimental consequences. The consequences include a negative impact on your social, professional, and political career. If you face any type of sex charges, it is crucial to have a skilled attorney to represent you and help you fight the charges. Below are some of the essential things that you need to understand about Virginia’s sex offender registry:

Governance of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry

There is a national registry of sex offenders. However, the Sex Offender & Crimes Against Minors Registry Act governs the sex offender registry in Virginia. This Act requires any person convicted of a listed sex crime in July 1994 or later to register as a sex offender.

Registering with the Police

You have to register as a sex offender after a conviction of particular offenses. If the law requires you to register as an offender in Virginia, you have to register with the State Police in Virginia. The registration must be in person. During the registration process, you have to provide proof of your residency. You have to submit your fingerprints and two photographs. Whenever you change your residence or address, you will have only 3 days to register the new address with the law enforcement agencies and the police.

Do you have to register even if you live in another state and you only work in Virginia? Yes, even in this case, the law requires you to register with the State Police in Virginia. For instance, you could be working in Manassas, Virginia, but you live in Washington, D.C., or Maryland. You will still need to register with the State Police in Virginia after a conviction of certain crimes.

How Long Your Name Remains on the Registry

After registering as a sex offender, how long will your name remain on the registry? If you face a sex offense conviction and you register on the registry of sex offenders in Virginia, your name will remain on the record for a minimum of 15 years. You might be eligible for a petition for the removal of your name from the sex offenders registry. However, you must not have been charged with another related crime or multiple crimes.

The Virginia Police Can Visit Your Home or Place of Work

The Virginia Police can appear at your workplace or your home after every 6 months. Home visits are a requirement of the law and are usually unannounced. The visits to the registered person’s place of work are not a requirement. However, if you are on the registry, you can refuse a police visit to your workplace.

Your Name Will Appear on Virginia’s Sex Offender Database

After receiving a notice from the Department and registering as a sex offender, your name will be available on the Sex Offender Database in Virginia. Anyone in the state of Virginia, including your co-workers and neighbors, can access the sex offenders registry and see your registration information including your name. You can only avoid being an entry into the Virginia sex offender registry by beating the sex crime charges you face.

Below is some additional information about sex offender registration in Virginia:

  • If you move within Virginia, you should register with the sheriff or police's office in your new county or city within three days.
  • If you plan to leave Virginia, you should inform the sheriff or the police's office where you registered that you plan to move. You should tell them ten days before you move.
  • If you get a new job or change your vehicle's registration, you should inform the sheriff or the police within three days.
  • If you change your email address, chat room name, instant message name, or other internet user information, you should notify the police within 30 minutes of making the change.

History of the National Registry

The national sex offender registry traces back to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. George W. Bush, a former U.S. president, signed the Act into law in 2006. In 1981, a child, Adam Walsh, was abducted from a shopping mall in Florida and murdered. It was not until 27 years later that the child's murder was apprehended. The child's father, John Walsh, became a renowned advocate for exploited and missing children. John Walsh was the host of "America's Most Wanted." This acclaimed television show features crimes committed by different fugitives of justice. Based on this show, the police arrested and brought to trial many of these criminals.

After the introduction of the registry, people required to register have faced harassment by their neighbors. There have been several media reports about people who occupied the former homes of registered persons. These people have been targeted by their neighbors. While looking at the old registry, most neighbors do not realize that the registered persons moved away and new innocent people occupied their homes. However, the sex offender registry has remained despite these problems.

Virginia lawmakers enacted the Sex Offender & Crimes Against Minors Registry Act in 2003, and the then-president George W. Bush signed it into law in 2006. The Virginia State Police maintains the registry. You have to register under the Act if you were convicted of a crime that requires registration on or after July 1, 1994. After your release from prison, you have to register with the county or city in which you live.

Virginia's Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry's role is to keep track of people who have faced convictions for committing a serious crime against a child. Many Virginia sex crimes have this consequence. The registry is in line with Chapter 9 of Title 9.1 of the Virginia law. The registry is per the decision by the Virginia General Assembly to make available information of people convicted of violent sexual offenses to the public. This way, the community is aware of the specific sex offenders instead of warning them about certain sex offenders.

An adult or a juvenile who was tried and convicted as an adult has to register as long as they are guilty of committing certain offenses against a minor. The violations include sexual abuse, rape, murder, and distributing child pornography. Title 9.1 outlines all the crimes for which registration is required.

Other Virginia’s Registry Requirements

After registration in the Virginia sex offender registry, the state police send your registration information to daycare businesses, school districts, foster homes, and children's residential facilities. Often, these organizations request to be notified whenever a registered person moves into the community. Every six months, the police show up unannounced on the registered person's doorstep. The purpose of the impromptu home visit is to ensure that the registered person adheres to all the registry requirements. If the police visit your home when you are not in, and another person answers the door, they will leave their contact information and ask for you to call them immediately.

You can request to have your name removed from the registry after 15 years. However, you can only do this if you have not been convicted of murder or a sexually violent offense. It should also be evident that you have not been convicted of more than two offenses for which you have to register as a sex offender. You have to file a petition in the court that convicted you of having your name removed from the registry. On the petition request, the judge will hold a hearing to listen to your case. The judge will only remove you from the registry if he or she feels that you are not a public risk.

If you are a registered person seeking to petition to have your name removed from the registry, you should contact an experienced attorney before filing the petition with the court.

Registration Levels

SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and National Act) has uniform registration rules for all sex offenders across the U.S., irrespective of the state in which they reside. The Act encourages states to broaden the list of crimes requiring registration by including more crimes, including certain juvenile offenses. This Act has in place a well-outlined risk evaluation tool. This tool sets forth low and high-risk persons and the timeframe for which the offender's information should remain in the registry.

There are three registration levels according to the Act:

Tier I –this requires the defendant to register as a sex offender for fifteen years. There is a possibility of removal from the registry after ten years.

Tier II- under this tier, the defendant registers as a sex offender for twenty-five years without the chance of deletion from the registry.

Tier III – under this tier, the offender registers as a sex offender for life. If you are an adult offender, you have no chance of removal from the registry. However, juvenile offenders can be removed from the registry.

People to Whom the Department Issues a Notice of Sex Offenders

According to Va. Code 16.1-278.7:02, you may receive a notice of sex offender registration for committing a violation, attempting to commit a violation, or conspiring to commit any of the following offenses:

  • Carnal knowledge on certain minors
  • Having carnal knowledge of a child between thirteen and fifteen years
  • Commercial exploitation of minors or any form of felony prostitution
  • Breaking into a structure or entering a structure with the intent to commit rape or any other crime outlined under this statute
  • If you take a minor to an indecent place to make them engage in prostitution
  • If you commit a second violation of possessing, soliciting, distributing, or facilitating child pornography
  • Engaging in commercial sex trafficking of persons below 18years
  • If you commit a third or a subsequent offense of sexually abusing a person below 15 years, illegal creation of nude pictures of another person, sexual battery, or attempted sexual battery
  • Soliciting minors via computer for sexual purposes
  • Committing certain crimes against a child as long as the prosecutor proves that you have a lewd or a lascivious intent
  • Procuring a child for sex to receive money
  • Penetrating a child’s mouth with a lewd or lascivious intent
  • Receiving income from the earnings of child prostitution
  • Aggravated malicious wounding- the prosecutor, should prove that the defendant is above 18 years and the victim is below 13 years

Other crimes that require you to register as an offender include:

  • Criminal homicide
  • Murder
  • Sexual offenses similar to those listed above; the crimes could be listed under the U.S. statutes, laws of a foreign country, or any other political subdivision.
  • Any crime that requires the defendant to register as a sex offender according to the jurisdiction in which the defendant was convicted.

The sex offender registration requirements apply even to juvenile offenders, whether convicted as juveniles or adults, as long as the crime in question requires the perpetrator to register as a sex offender. You have to register and re-register as required by the law.

When a Non-Resident Commits a Sex Crime

When convicted as a sex offender, your punishment may linger long after you have completed your sentence. What happens when you commit a sex crime, and you are a non-resident? If a non-resident commits an offense that requires registration as a sex offender in the home state, he or she must register in Virginia after coming into the state to go to school, for employment, or an extended visit. The defendant should register within three days after entering the state.

What would happen if crimes that are not currently listed as sex crimes are classified as such? If this happens, retroactive treatment may apply. Therefore, there is a risk that you might have to register as a sex offender in the future if you are convicted of a crime that is not currently a sex crime. If future legislation that lists the crime as a sex crime passes, you may have to register as a sex offender.

Penalties for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender

What are the consequences of failing to register as an offender in the state of Virginia after receiving a notice to register from the Department? According to Virginia law, failing to register as a sex offender or providing false information is a Class 1 misdemeanor. You will face misdemeanor charges for a first conviction as long as you committed a non-violence sex offense. The typical consequences for a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia Code §18.2-472.1 include a maximum fine of $2,500 and 12 months in jail.

A second time or a subsequent failure to register as a sex offender where you have been convicted of a non-violent sex offense is a Class 6 felony. This offense can be punishable by a fine of up to $2500 and imprisonment of up to five years. The judge mat, depending on his or her discretion, sentences you to less than 12 months in prison.

What happens if you fail to register as a sex offender yet you are convicted of murder or a violent sex offense? You will face class 6 felony charges. If you commit a second or a subsequent violation, you will face class 5 felonies. The mandatory punishment for a Class 5 felony includes imprisonment of up to 10 years. You may also have to pay a hefty fine of up to $2500. If the judge or jury deems a lighter punishment appropriate, the jail term may be less than 12 months.

The penalties for failing to register as a sex offender despite receiving notice of registration are incredibly severe. Therefore, if you face such charges, it is advisable to consult an attorney who is experienced in defending all these kinds of cases instead of explaining things yourself. An attorney will consider all aspects of your case and identify the best options for fighting your charges.

Renewing your Sex Offender Registration

Most sex offenders have to renew their sex registration annually. However, you may have to renew your registration before a year ends if something like your job or your address changes or if you buy a new vehicle. If you are convicted of murder or a violent sexual offense, you must renew your registration every 90 days.

The court might increase your annual registration to every 180 days if you fail to register or re-register. The same case may apply if you provide false information while registering as a sex offender. If you commit any of the mentioned violations, the 90-day registration requirement for violent sex offenses and murder could be shortened to every 30 days.

Filing a Petition for a Less Frequent Registration Renewal

According to Virginia Code §9.1-909, a sexually violent offender may petition to have their re-registration period amended from 90 days to one a year. However, this provision only applies after the offenders comply with the registration renewal rules for the first three years. You have to wait for five years before petitioning if the frequent registration renewal is due to a prior conviction of failing to register or providing false information during registration.

Before you have the re-registration frequency reduced, you have to undergo an evaluation. The role of the evaluation is to determine if you have any personality or abnormality disorder that prevents you from controlling your sexual behavior or makes you a menace or a risk to the public. A three-person panel performs the evaluation. The court may reduce your re-registration frequency if the panel clears you and submits a report. However, you still have to re-register once per year for the rest of your life.

Trying to alter or eliminate the requirement to re-register as a sex offender in Virginia is complicated and involves complex issues. An experienced attorney would be a valuable asset while filing such a petition.

Find a Virginia Criminal Attorney Near Me

If you receive a notice to register as a sex offender, you need a reliable attorney to guide you through the process. You need an aggressive attorney to defend you if you have been charged with failing to register as a sex offender or providing false information while registering as a sex offender. The same case applies if you are applying for a reduction of your re-registration frequency. If you need reliable legal counsel in Fairfax, VA, and Northern Virginia, Virginia Criminal Attorney would be happy to help you. Contact us at 703-718-5533 and speak to one of our attorneys.