Any sex crime in Virginia can lead to harsh lifetime consequences even after conviction to the offenders. Upon release from a correctional facility or prison, a person must register and re-register as a sex offender periodically with the local police authority within his/her residence or employment area. According to Virginia Code 53.1-160.1, the correctional facility, which a sex offender was under conviction, must give notice to sex offenders registry requirements to a sex offender upon release from prison and explain to him/her the requirements for registration as an offender.
After an explanation of your requirement and obligation to register as an offender, you must physically present yourself to the nearest police authority for inclusion in the sex offender registry. Failure to do that can lead to separate criminal charges and possible imprisonment. Contact the Virginia Criminal Attorney today to know your sex offender registry requirements and obligations after registration. We serve Fairfax and the Nothern Virginia area.
An Overview of Sex Crimes in Virginia
Criminal offenses which involve illegal or coerced conduct against a person sexually without their consent is considered a sex crime. Certain sexual conducts with a person incapable of consent, such as a child, is also a sex crime. Sex crimes are some of the most serious crimes in the criminal justice system because the crime can result to harm on a victim, and also severe penalties to the sex offender. The following are examples of commonly prosecuted sex crimes in Virginia:
Aggravated sexual battery
Production, financing, and distribution of child pornography
Object sexual penetration
Each of the above sex crimes has its sentencing requirements under the state or federal law. To be guilty of any sex crime, the prosecutor must prove the crime elements of the alleged sex offense. A person who indulges in any type of sexual crime regardless of the severity of the crime he/she is known as a sex offender.
Depending on the severity and nature of a particular sex crime, a sex offender may face unbearable lifelong consequences of the offense even after serving his/her prison sentence. Lifelong consequences of committing a sex crime involve inclusion in the state sex offender registry, which will require the offender to re-register his/her information often, especially when relocating. This article will discuss in detail what sex offender registration entails, registration requirements, the impact of registration, and the consequences of inclusion in the sex offender registry in Virginia.
What Sex Offenders Needs to Know About Sex Offender Registration in Virginia
Typically, any individual who has served a prison sentence after indulging in a sex crime must register and re-register as a sex offender periodically with the police authority within his/her residence area shortly after release from a correctional facility. The Attorney General and the FBI keeps the sex offender registry for individuals who have been under conviction for specific types of sex crimes and sex crimes against minors. The main purpose of the inclusion of every offender in the state sex offender registry is to keep track of every offender's movement and behavior. Inclusion in the registry enables law enforcers to monitor and ensure the offenders are not a threat to the community after release from prison and to make sure their information is accessible to the public for proper precaution.
Congress passed The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) under the general Adan Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which came to enactment after the murder of Adam Walsh. SORNA is the act that outlines the guidelines for registration as sex offenders nationwide. The act makes it clear the duties and responsibilities of both the sex offender and the law enforcement agencies towards registering and updating information of sex offenders on the registry.
The definition of crimes that are considered sexual offenses is different in every state as well as the punishment requirement for each crime. SORNA categorizes sexual offenses into “tiers” depending on the prison sentence duration and aggravating factors surrounding the offense, such as the victim’s age. The following is an outline of the three tiers of sexual offenses under SORNA, the definition of particular sex crimes under each tier and obligation of the offender after release from prison:
Tier III Offenses
Tier III sex offenses are the more severe in terms of penalties and harm to the victim than the other three tiers of sexual offenses under SORNA. Sex crimes falling under Tier III offenses involves abusive sexual contact or any aggravated sexual abuse against an underage. Sex crimes against an underage are treated severely in Virginia as a warning to people with such behavior. The kidnapping of a minor would fall under Tier III offenses if the kidnapping did not accompany his/her parent or guardian. If the offender committed a Tier II offense such as sex trafficking before kidnapping the minor, the offender would also be guilty of Tier III offenses.
In Virginia, sex offenders who are found guilty of a sexual offense under this category will be at risk of severe lifelong punishment for the offense. Tier III offenses carry a lifelong reporting requirement and re-registering, which makes offenses under this category severe to any individual. If the sex offender changes residence address after being listed in the sex offender registry, he/she must notify the local authority when relocating for an update of his/her information on the national registry.
Tier II Offenses
Any sex offense with a possible conviction of at least one-year fall under the Tier II category of sex offenses under SORNA. Unlike Tier III offenses that involve kidnapping, Tier II offenses involve coercion, enticement, sex trafficking, or transportation of a minor/underage with planned intent to engage in abusive or criminal sexual activities. The use of a minor individual to engage in prostitution, sexual performances, or distribution of children pornographic materials is also a Tier II sex offense. Penalties for Tier II offenses are less severe than that of Tier III offenses. Conviction sentence of sex offenders guilty of Tier II offenses requires mandatory reporting and re-registration for 25 years as part of the requirement of the probation, according to SORNA.
Tier I Offenses
Any sex crime which does not qualify to be under the above two tiers is categorized as Tier I offense. Sex offenders of Tier I offenses will register for only ten years as long as the offender as a clean criminal record since last conviction. If a sex offender engages in other criminal activities or sexual offenses with a prison sentence of more than a year, this registration period might be modified. Violation of the probation conditions might lead to an adjustment of the sex offender registration period to a maximum of fifteen years after release from prison.
How long an offender should register depends on an individual specific sex crime charge, which led to his/her previous conviction. A sex offender must obey the registration requirement of his/her particular sex crime in any of the three tiers of SORNA failure to which there might be some criminal consequences. You need to consult with experts like Virginia Criminal Attorney to know of your requirement as an offender before registration and after registration in the sex offender registry to be able to meet the registration requirements during the probation.
Sex Offender Registration Requirements According to The National Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act
According to Virginia Code 53.1-160.1, the prison department must notify certain sex offenders of their duty to register and update their information with local police authority periodically, which should commence immediately after an offender leaves the prison. After explanation and reading the registration requirement, the sex offender will acknowledge that he/she has read and understood the sex offender registration requirement by signing the documentation provided.
The sex offender must physically present his/her information to the nearest police department for inclusion in the registry and be ready to cooperate with the officer’s registration requirements. The essential requirement for registration as an offender in Virginia include:
Provision of personal information such as name/aliases, telephone numbers, social security number, date of birth, physical description, current photograph, fingerprints, DNA, residence addresses and all other relevant personal information
Provision of employment information such as professional licenses and employer’s name and address
Provision of school information if you’re a student including the name and address of the school
Provision of driving information such as driver license and vehicle information
Provision of criminal information including all past crimes
After registration with the local police department, this information will be forwarded to the state police electronically for updates in the national offender registry. Upon receiving an offender registration information, the state police must send this information to daycare businesses, school districts, or foster homes that require notification when an offender moves anywhere near their community after release from prison.
After the update of this offender’s information on the national registry database, law enforcement authorities in all jurisdictions will be able to access the information. Update of an offender’s information on the state’s sex offender registry database makes it easy to track a sex offender’s movement and whereabouts to make sure that he/she is not a threat to the community, and he/she is a law-abiding citizen.
The offender’s information will also be visible to the public apart from a few exemption information, such as the sex offender's employer's name and address. To enforce the registration requirement and make the registration uniform to every sex offender in terms of the type of sex crime committed and information provided, SORNA requires:
Every state must keep a sex offender registry
All registered sex offenders must keep their information current on the national registry
In-person appearances to the local authority periodically
Disclosure of an offender’s information to the public
All sex offenders are subject to the minimum duration of the registration according to an individual sex crime
After inclusion in the sex offender registry, Virginia law may require state police officers to conduct an impromptu visit to the sex offender’s home after every six months. The officers can also visit the registered person’s place of work unannounced, but they have to be dressed in a full work uniform and also arrive at the area with a police vehicle for everyone to see. The purpose of the impromptu visit is to ensure the registered offender is following the registration conditions and requirements, according to SORNA.
Inclusion in a Sex Offender Registry Impacts on a Person’s Life
The quality of a sex offender's life is affected immediately after inclusion in a sex offender registry. Some of these impacts are lifelong, depending on a person’s specific sex offense that leads to a prior conviction sentence. Below are some of the impacts of inclusion in a sex offender registry:
When a person moves or changes residence address, he/she is obligated to notify particular people/officials such as the neighbors, president of schools, and community groups
Some types of registry offenses require police officers to conduct periodic unplanned check-ins to make sure the sex offender is following the registration requirements which can very inconveniencing if you are a busy person
There is a negative connotation for registration as a sex offender to the next of kin which will affect the offender’s relationships
The sex offender will face long term negative implication for inclusion in the national sex offender registry especially when he/she needs to move to a new location because the neighbors he/she meets must approve the individual moving into their community
Difficulty in maintaining employment or securing an employment
Difficulty in securing a house
The impacts of inclusion in a sex offender registry can be very overwhelming to the life of a person to the extent of assuming the registration requirement sometimes. Violation of a sex offender registry requirements will only make the impact of the registration severe. Therefore, it is always wise to abide by your registration requirements. Later after fifteen years, you can file a petition for removal or adjustment of the sex offender registry requirement instead of violating the registry requirement and facing the same negative impact your entire life.
Consequences for Failing to Comply with Virginia Sex Offender Registry Requirements
Failure to register or abide by the Virginia sex offender registry requirement is considered a separate sex offense, and violators of this law may face severe consequences. An appropriate law enforcement official will notify the Attorney General immediately when a registered sex offender violates the probation conditions and requirements. The Attorney General will review the sex offender information on the jurisdiction registry to determine the nature of his/her failure, depending on the type and nature of the sex offender's original sex crime.
Regardless of a person’s registration period, failure to meet the sex offender registry requirements can lead to a different set of penalties. A first-time offender who has failed to comply with his/her requirements for registration as ordered by the court may be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor offense. Providing false registration information is also a sex offense under this class of misdemeanor sex offenses.
The usual penalty for these types of misdemeanor convictions under Virginia law includes a fine amounting up to $2,500 and a one-year jail term. Any other subsequent failure to abide or comply with the registration requirements is considered a class 6 felony with the same fine but a longer jail sentence of up to 5 years. Class 6 felony penalties will also apply to individuals who commit more serious or violent sex crimes while on probation.
Guidelines for Removal from The Sex Offender Registry in Virginia
After serving your minimum period of registration requirement as per your sex offense, you might be able to petition the court for clearance of your name from the national sex offender registry or maybe request less strict registration requirements. Generally, in Virginia, the court will consider removing an offender from the national sex offender registry after fifteen years as long as he/she has a clean record and has abided to the registration requirements.
A person can file a petition for leniency in the registration requirements after three years without an incident. Registration as a sex offender affects a person's life ultimately, especially if you’re a business person who needs to move around, but luckily in Virginia, you can file a petition for removal from the sex offender registry under certain conditions. Apart from completing the registration period as a sex offender, you must also meet the following requirements:
Complete relevant counseling as ordered by the court
Paying all court-ordered reimbursement completely
Prove that you’re no longer a public threat
Successful pass all psychological examinations
Relief from the registration duties as a sex offender is not available for sex offenders convicted of violent felony sex crimes. When filing a petition for removal from the sex offender registry or for modification of your registration requirements, you must hire a criminal defense attorney to explore possible options of making the petition successful for a free and happy life.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sex Offender Registry in Virginia
They are common questions that individuals requiring inclusion in the sex offender registry ask to be able to make the right decisions when registering as an offender. These questions will also guide an individual in abiding by the sex offender registry requirements as per Virginia laws to avoid more penalties for violation of the probation requirements. These questions include (but not limited to):
How Often Must a Sex Offender, Keep Updating His or Her Information in the Sex Offender Registry?
The period an offender will require to update his/her information in the national registry will depend on the nature of the sex offense leading to the previous conviction and the category of the offense as per SORNA. A sex offender must keep his/her information current with every jurisdiction where he/she lives, go to school, or work. In each jurisdiction, the sex offender must allow the officials to take his/her photograph. A sex offender will keep his/her information current at least:
Once a year for tier I sex offenses
After half a year for tier II offenses
After three consecutive months for tier III offenses
Does Sex Offender Registry Requirements and Conditions Apply to Offenders Who Were Under Conviction Before Implementation of SORNA?
SORNA laws are a bit tough because they apply to all offenders, including those who were under conviction before the implementation of the act by the assembly on 27th July 2006. SORNA requirements apply to all offenders, even those who were under conviction before the incorporation of SORNA requirements in their jurisdiction system.
What Information About an Offender Will the Public be Able to Access and Where Will They Access the Information?
After the inclusion of your information in the sex offender registry, certain information about you will be updated on the public website because you’re considered a public threat. The information the public can access about a sex offender varies in every jurisdiction. In Virginia, the public will be able to access the following information about a sex offender:
Your name and all aliases
Your sex offense
Date of birth
Physical description skin complexion, weight, and height
All this information can be accessed online on the National Offender Public Site (NSOPW) with just a click of a button. This website provides every sex offender information on all public registry sites in every state, territories, and Indian tribes, which are recognized by the federal government.
Who Should Register as a Sex Offender?
Typically, any person who has completed his/her prison sentence after indulging in specified sex offenses under SORNA. Individuals who were under conviction due to sex offenses with a minor must also present their information to the nearest local enforcement authority for inclusion in the sex offender registry immediately after release from prison.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Consequences of failing to register or re-register your information after a notice to sex offenders registry requirements can result in new criminal charges you would never wish for yourself or your loved one. To ensure that you’re meeting the requirements of Virginia law concerning sex offender registration duties, you will need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Virginia Criminal Attorney. Call us at 703-718-5533 from anywhere in Fairfax or Northern Virginia to talk to our skilled attorneys.