If you have been charged and convicted of a sex offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you must register as a sex offender. The law requires you to register as a sex offender with the state’s Sex Offender & Crimes Against Minors Registry. Failing to comply with the sex offender registration requirement is a crime that attracts incarceration, hefty fines, and other consequences. Also, the information you provide in this registry must be correct. Providing incorrect information is also another offense that attracts punishment under Va. Code 18.2-472.1.
If you have been prosecuted for providing false information during sex offender registration in Fairfax and Northern Virginia, seek legal assistance from a skilled sex crimes lawyer. Your charges may have stemmed from just an oversight by the persons in charge. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we can help you build solid defenses to fight the charges. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential consultation.
Overview of Sex Offender Registration
Virginia law requires that you provide your information to the state database if you are found guilty of a sex crime or various violent offenses. The information must include your correct name, fingerprints, address, photograph, DNA sample, Internet screen names, and vehicle registration. You must also re-register at least once every year, based on your crime and other factors. Lastly, providing false info or failure to register could add another felony or misdemeanor sentence to your criminal record, in addition to possible fines and jail time.
Va. Code 9.1-902 outlines what crimes require sex offender registration. Note that crimes that require registration are not limited to only sex crimes. They also include criminal homicide and murder. Offenses requiring sex offender registration are:
- Sexual contact with an under 13 victim
- Forcible sodomy
- Rape/attempted rape
- Sexual battery or aggravated sexual battery
- Producing, financing, or distributing child pornography
- Possessing child pornography
- Criminal homicide
- Carnal knowledge of a minor
- Object sexual penetration
What if you are a non-resident and have been convicted of a crime that requires you to register as a sex offender in your state of residence? Well, In this case, you’ll still need to register in the state of Virginia if you come in for employment, extended visit, or to attend school. You’re required to register in three days of coming to Virginia.
Retroactive treatment could apply to offenses that aren’t currently classified as sex offenses if they’re later categorized as sex crimes. This means even if you are found guilty of an offense not presently classified as a sex offense, you may be required to register as a sex offender if future legislators pass a law that provides the crime should be considered a sexual offense.
The Sex Offender Registration Process
If you are found guilty of a crime that requires sex offender registration, you generally have to register in three days of your release from prison or jail. Registration entails giving the sheriff’s or police department where you reside your correct registration info. The sheriff’s or police office then sends these details to the State Police to include in the state registry. During registration, you have to:
- Provide your DNA sample, which will go to the databank
- Have your photograph taken
- Give your employment info.
- Have your palm prints and fingerprints taken
- Provide the correct proof of residence
- Give the correct registration info for any vehicle, aircraft, or boat you own
- Provide your correct email address or any other user ID
In case you move from one place to another within the state, you have to submit the registration details at the sheriff or police’s office in the new county or city you have moved to by the third day of moving. And if you move out of Virginia, you must inform the sheriff’s or police office wherever you had registered that you are moving ten days before leaving.
Additionally, you’re required to update the registration in three days if you change your car registration or find new employment. Should you change your email address, chat room or instant name, or any other internet username, the law says you must tell law enforcement within thirty minutes after making the changes.
Why Do Offenders Provide False Information?
Being included in the Sex Offender & Crimes Against Minors Registry can significantly affect a person’s life; perhaps that’s why people provide false information. The registry obligates you to inform various officials, including school presidents, community groups, and even neighbors, if you change your address or move to a new one. The registry may also require you to do periodic check-ins with the local law enforcement agency or Virginia State police, and there may be additional requirements similar to probation.
Due to all these requirements, it may be difficult for you to do certain things. For instance, you may not be able to obtain a security clearance, secure employment, qualify for student loans, or you may even be incapable of leasing a rental house. Also, when you move to another place, your neighbors will know about it. Not forgetting, the social stigma that comes with being included in the registry, even in certain cases, for offenses that involve consent, can hurt you as you try to fit in your community. Essentially, there’s a definite negative connotation linked to being listed in the sex offender registry and adverse effects that follow from that.
Another aspect that may lead to an offender providing false information is that the police will have to come to your home every six months. They can also come to your place of work. Home visits will be unannounced, and they’re mandatory. Visits to your workplace aren’t necessary, but you can’t decline it as long as you are on the registry.
Your name will also be searchable on the state’s sex offender database. This means that if anyone in Virginia, from your neighbors to co-workers, searches the state’s sex offender registry, they will see your name and info. However, this is not permanent. After a certain period of being in the registry, as we will see later in this article, your name can be removed.
Renewing Your Registration
The law mostly requires you to register every year except if something changes, for instance, your job, address, or if you purchase a new auto. If you are found guilty of murder or any sexually violent crime, you must reregister every ninety days.
And if you are found guilty of providing incorrect information, failure to register/re-register, the annual registration increases up to every a hundred and eighty days. The ninety-day registration condition will also be shortened to every thirty days.
Consequences for Providing False Information/Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Providing incorrect information or failure to register as a sex offender is prosecuted as a Class 1 misdemeanor if it is your first sex offense, and it wasn’t violent. The general consequences you will face include up to one year of a jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,500.
A second/subsequent offense of providing false information or failing to register is charged as a Class 6 felony. The penalties for this crime include a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine of up to $2,500. However, a jury or judge has the authority to impose a jail sentence of not more than a year.
If you are convicted of murder or any violent sexual offense, providing false info or failure to register as a sex offender is charged as a Class 6 felony if it’s your first conviction. If it’s your second/subsequent conviction, you will face Class 5 felony charges, for which penalties include a prison sentence of between one and ten years and up to $2,500 in fines. Incarceration can be reduced to less than a year in jail if a jury or judge considers a lenient sentence appropriate.
Petitioning To Be Removed from the Sex Offender Registry
Va. Code 9.1-910 permits various non-violent sexual offenders to move to remove their names from the registry after fifteen years. For your name to be struck off, you need to:
- Prove to the judge that you aren’t a danger to the public anymore
- Finish all the court-ordered counseling, restitution payment, and treatment
This option isn’t available to you if you were convicted of any sexually violent crime or murder or if you were found guilty of more than one offense. And if your conviction was for:
- Distributing child pornography,
- Communicating with a minor, or
- Carnal knowledge of a child,
you must wait twenty-five years before seeking to be removed from the register.
Petition to Have Less Frequent Sex Offender Registration Renewal
After three years, the law permits a sexually violent offender to file a petition seeking their re registration period to be modified from every ninety days to annually. If you must re register more frequently due to a past conviction, you can bring a petition after five years seeking to have the frequency decreased.
As one of the judge’s decisions, you will be required to go through an evaluation. The evaluation determines whether or not you have a personality disorder or mental abnormality that makes it impossible for you to control your sexual conduct or causes you to be a threat to public safety. If the three-individual panel that carries out the evaluation clears you and presents the report, you could have your reregistration frequency reduced. You will still need to register annually for your entire life.
We have intricate matters involved in filing a petition to alter or eliminate the condition for sex offender reregistration. A skilled sex crimes lawyer would be invaluable when submitting this kind of petition.
Arrest and Court Process for the Crime of Providing False Information Under Va. Code 18.2-472.1
When the State Police records show that you have provided false information during your registration as a sex offender, the State Police will immediately investigate. If there’s reasonable cause to believe you have violated the law, they will acquire a warrant or help obtain an indictment prosecuting a Code 18.2-472.1 violation. The prosecution will occur in the jurisdiction where you last registered, reregistered, or verified your registration information.
The police will then forward a signed affidavit to the jurisdiction. The affidavit is signed by the records custodian asserting that you provided false information during sex offender registration. If the prosecution admits this affidavit into evidence, it will be the prima facie evidence that you provided incorrect information in any hearing or trial for your violation. This is as long as in the hearing or trial, except for the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor satisfies the requirements under section G of Va. Code 18.2-472.1, and you haven’t objected that the affidavit is admitted as per section H.
Section G of Va. Code 18.2-472.1 provides that if the state attorney intends to admit the affidavit into evidence instead of testimony during hearing or trial, he/she must:
- Provide via delivery, email, or any other means a duplicate of the affidavit to your attorney or you if you are representing yourself, free of charge, and not later than twenty-eight days before the trial or hearing
- Provide, together with the duplicate of the affidavit, a notice addressed to you of your legal right to oppose the affidavit being admitted into evidence without the records custodian presence & testimony.
- File a duplicate of the notice and affidavit with the court clerk of the court hearing your case on the day the notice and affidavit are provided to you
On the other hand, section H provides that in any hearing or trial for this violation, except the preliminary hearing, you may oppose in writing the use of the affidavit as proof instead of testimony. You have to file your objection with the court presiding over your case. You must also send a copy of this objection to the state’s attorney, not more than two weeks after the state’s attorney files the notice and affidavit with the court clerk. Failure to do so, your objection will be considered waived. If you make a timely objection, the affidavit won’t be admitted into evidence, except if:
- You or your attorney waive the objection before the judge or in writing, or
- You or your counsel stipulate before the judge to the use of the affidavit as proof.
The police will also immediately inform the local police officers of the area of your last known residence as indicated by the State Police records.
Once the local police are informed, they can also acquire a warrant or help to obtain an indictment for charging a Va. Code 18.2-472.1 violation. But they have to notify the State Police immediately about the actions they take.
The State Police will then physically verify or direct the Department of Corrections or community supervision to physically verify your registration details within thirty days of your first registration and every six months each year after that. And if you are under community supervision or the Department of Corrections’ control, the verification will be done within thirty days of changing your address.
Upon request, The Department of Corrections or community supervision will avail the verification info to the State police in an electronic format of the State Police choice.
Note that charges for providing false information during sex offender registration are filed in the county or city where you are found or where you last registered, verified your registration info, or reregistered.
During the preliminary hearing where the affidavit is submitted into evidence, you have the legal right to summon & call the records custodian who issued the affidavit and examine them similarly as though they had been called as an adverse witness. The custodian will appear at the expense of the state. And where the custodian isn’t available for the trial/hearing, and the state’s lawyer has used due diligence to secure his/her presence, the court will order a continuance. The continuance will be for ninety days or less if you’ve been in custody continuously and 180 days or less if you haven’t been detained continuously.
What if you or your attorney wish to object to the timelines regarding receipt of the notice? If this is the case, you have to object before the trial or hearing upon receiving the actual notice. The court then will require the state to prove that they delivered or mailed the notice within the required time and that you received it on time. If the judge finds that you didn’t receive it on time, he/she will sustain your objection. And if you objected before trial or hearing, the court shall order a continuance if requested either by you or the state, and the period limitations we mentioned above apply.
How an Attorney Can Help Fight Your Case
You may assume that providing false information under Va. Code 18.2-472.1 is a simple crime that you can represent yourself. The truth is, it isn’t— every criminal offense isn’t. You need to have a lawyer by your side to help you challenge the charges, and you have to retain one in the early stages of your case. Your charge may have resulted from a misunderstanding that only a lawyer can point out and cause your case to be dropped before it advances. Alternatively, if your case proceeds, your lawyer may advise you on what you should and should not discuss with the police, so you don’t find yourself pleading guilty to an offense you did not commit. Other reasons you should retain and trust in your lawyer are:
Knowledge of the Law on Sex Offender Registration
Virginia sex crimes and sex offender registration laws can be intricate for a layperson to understand. And if you don’t know the law, you could easily be confused. An attorney knows every aspect of these laws as well as the court procedure. They’ll determine if there’s any loophole or inconsistency in the prosecution’s case that can work in your favor.
Apart from knowing the local court rules, there are several unwritten rules regarding sex offender registration. For instance, if a prosecutor can make and approve a plea bargain, your lawyer may handle the negotiations for you. There are also several statutes buried within regulations and other laws, in that if you were representing yourself, you likely won’t know if your arrest was lawful or illegal.
Impeccable Negotiation Skills
A plea deal to lower your charges or drop them may be the best option for you. However, the prosecutor may take advantage if you’re representing yourself. A prosecutor knows that it will be easier for them to win the case if you are representing yourself than if they were to face a defense lawyer.
Defense lawyers have negotiated cases for years and often use creative ideas that you wouldn’t know existed. Your lawyer will advise you from the beginning what steps to take to place you in a better position for plea bargaining.
You may be sure that you are innocent and thus don’t want to have plea negotiations. But what you do not know is that there are several other legal mechanisms your case can be solved without pleading guilty while lowering the risk of a possible conviction if you go to trial. We have concepts that you aren’t trained to know or understand, thus the reason you shouldn’t represent yourself.
Hire a Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
The penalties for providing false information during sex offender registration are severe. Therefore, if you are facing charges, you want to speak with an attorney experienced in fighting false information registration charges. If you are in Fairfax or Northern Virginia, knowledgeable lawyers from Virginia Criminal Attorney can help you. They will review the facts in your case and advise if you have any option for challenging the charge. To learn more on how our lawyers can help you build a solid defense, please call us at 703-718-5533 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.