One of the consequences of facing a sex offense conviction in Virginia is registering as a sex offender with the police department. You should re-register for the rest of your life until and unless you obtain lawful relief from the obligation. The sex offender label could negatively affect different aspects of your life and future. It will ruin your reputation, and you might find it challenging to secure employment in specific workplaces. You might also be required to refrain from entering areas like school property.

Consequently, it is essential to seek legal assistance. The lawyers at Virginia Criminal Attorney, who serve clients in Northern Virginia and the city of Fairfax, believe that you are innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecutor should prove the offense beyond any reasonable doubt. We can work diligently to have the charge reduced or dismissed and relive the requirement to register. 

About Crimes Prohibiting Entry on School Property and Other Assets; Penalty

The section below elaborates VA. Code 18.2-370.5 for better understanding.

  1. Each adult sentenced for a Tier III crime should be banned from being present or getting into school:
    1. During school-related activities and school hours upon a property they know or should be aware is a child center or a private or public secondary or elementary school property,
    2. On a school car, as VA. Code 46.2-100 defines it, or
    3. Upon a property, private or public, when a private or public secondary or elementary school uses the property for school-sponsored or school-related activities
  1. The requirement of clauses (iii) and (i) in subsection A don't apply to the defendant if:
    1. They are an eligible and registered voter and are entering the asset to cast their vote
    2. They are a student at that school
    3. They have acquired an order from the court under subsection C permitting them to enter the property, has the consent of the school board, or child day center, or private school owner, for entrance within part of or all the space of the lifted injunction. The defendant should adhere to the school's board, center's terms, and those outlined in the order.
  1. Each adult banned from getting into child day center or school property under subsection A might following notice to the attorney for the Commonwealth and either
    1. the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the school board chairperson of the school division where the learning institution is situated, or
    2. a school's chief administrator if the school is a private school, or
    3. the child day center's proprietor,

petition the circuit court in the city or county where the institution is situated for authorization to go in the assets.

The court should order a petitioner to cause notice of the place and time of their hearing. The petition should be published in a newspaper. It should also have a provision indicating that comments about the petition might be presented to the court clerk five days before the court hearing.

If you show good cause, the judge might issue a directive allowing you to go into the school, subject to what limitation of area, explanations for being there, or time restrictions the judge deems suitable.

  1. Violating the section is a Class 6 felony.

The maximum penalty for a Class 6 felony includes:

  • At least a year and a maximum of five years in prison
  • In the court or jury's discretion, time in jail for twelve months and two thousand and five hundred dollars in fine

Everything You Should Know as a Tier III Sex Offender

Suppose you have served time in prison after committing a sex offense. In that case, you should register as a sex offender often with law enforcers within your residence following the release from detention. The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Attorney General keep the registry for sex offenses and sex wrongdoings against children below 18 defendants.

The rationale of including all sex crime defendants in the registry is to monitor the accused person's conduct and behavior. Moreover, it helps the police to:

  • monitor the defendant and ensure they aren't a community threat following their release, and
  • ensure the public can access the information for precaution and protection.

Congress passed the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act following Adam Walsh's murder. It outlines the responsibilities and duties of the defendant and law enforcers as far as registering and bringing information up-to-date on the national sex registry is concerned.

The definition and penalties for sex crimes differ in different states. SORNA classifies sex crime into tiers liable on the incarceration duration and case facts like the alleged victim's age. Below is a summary of Tier III under the act.

Tier III

Tier III is the most severe degree of the sex offender. It carries at least a year in prison as a penalty and:

  • Can be compared to aggravated abuse as outlined in 18 U.S.C. 2241, or if the alleged victim is below 13 any abusive sexual contact (18 U.S.C. 2244) or sexual abuse (18 U.S.C. 2242) or
  • The kidnapping of the child, unless their guardian or parent committed it, or
  • It happens after a Tier II offender commits another sex crime that is a felony

In other words, Tier III sex crimes involve:

  • A non-parental kidnapping of a child
  • Any sexual conduct that involves oral contact or anal or genital penetration executed through threats or force, or when the alleged victim cannot consent or is unconscious
  • Any sexual conduct where the victim is a minor below twelve
  • Direct touching of the genital of a person below sixteen (it is not via clothes)
  • Sexual contact involving touching intimate body parts when the alleged victim is younger than thirteen years (even touch through clothing counts)
  • A conspiracy or attempt to commit one of the above crimes

If found guilty of a Tier III sex crime, you will be on the sex offender registry for life. A juvenile adjudicated delinquent for a Tier III sex crime might be relieved of the registry requirement after attaining twenty-five years. However, if your child was tried as an adult, they will be a registered sex offender for life.

Sex Offender Registration Requirement Under SORNA

The detaining jurisdiction should notify the sex offender of their responsibility to register and keep the police posted with their data every so often. The defendant should register after their release. After reading their registration requirements, the defendant should acknowledge reading and understanding their obligation by signing any paperwork offered.

You should physically present your details to your local police station to be included in the sex registry. You will provide the following information:

  • Personal information like name/aliases, phone number, physical description, fingerprints, current photographs, social security number, residence address, and D.N.A
  • Your employment details like your boss' name and addresses and professional licenses
  • School info if you are a student, such as your school's address and name
  • Driving details such as car information and driver's license
  • Criminal history

After registering with the police, the police will forward the information to Virginia police electrically for updates in the national offender registry. Then the police will send the info to learning institutions that require notifications when you enter their property after your release.

Following your details on the national registry updates, all law enforcers in every jurisdiction can access your information. The update makes it easy for the police to monitor your movements, ensure you are a responsible citizen, and not pose a risk to your community.

Please note that members of the public can access your information apart from your boss' name, phone number, and address.

The law requires the police to conduct impromptu visits to your home after six months. Additionally, the police can visit your workplace unnoticed, but they should come in police uniform and with a police car. The visit aims to ensure you are complying with your registration requirements and conditions.

Penalties and Consequences for Failing to Adhere to Virginia Sex Offender Registry Requirement

Failing to register as a sex offender or submitting false details during the registration is a Class 1 misdemeanor for your first-time offense, provided the crime committed was non-violent. It carries a year jail sentence and two thousand and five hundred dollars in fine. A subsequent conviction for failing to comply with the sex offender registry requirement is a Class 6 felony. The defendant will spend five (5) years of imprisonment.

Violent sex offenders who fail to follow the requirements or offer false details are charged with Class 6 felony. A subsequent crime is a Class 5 felony punishable by two thousand and five hundred dollars in fines and ten years of incarceration.

The penalties of failing to comply with sex offender registration requirements are harsh. Consequently, if you're accused, it is wise that you consult with a skilled sex crime lawyer instead of trying to explain things yourself. The legal counsel will analyze the case facts to determine available options for fighting these criminal charges. They can also file a petition, so you do have to re-register many times.

Consequences of Registering as a Sex Offender

Registering as a sex offender could mean your life will change forever. When you register, your personal information will be accessible by the general public, including your family and friends.

Additionally, registration has the following effects:

  • Being registered as a sex offender means some landlord denying you housing. You might also not be permitted to reside in specific neighborhoods.
  • You might face challenges securing employment. It isn't uncommon for bosses to conduct a background check before hiring a worker. Some firms have policies that stop engaging a person sentenced for a felony. Other workplaces such as healthcare facilities, daycares, and schools might require that you pass a background check searching for sex crimes or offenses against children.
  • You should re-register and update your personal information from time to time. Failing to update the data can lead to a non-compliance charge, not forgetting additional penalties.
  • Since your information on the sex offender registry is public, any person can access it. While they aren't allowed to commit offenses against you, you might find that individuals are biased or prejudiced towards you due to your status.

Defining Sex Crimes

Sex offenses in Virginia are defined as sexual conduct perpetrated against somebody else without their consent or against an individual who cannot legally give permission.

Virginia Sexual Consent

Non-consensual sexual conduct is a crime. Depending on your sexual act's nature, you might be prosecuted with severe offenses such as forcible sodomy, sexual object penetration, or rape if there exists proof that you did not have the victim's consent when you acted. While there isn't a specific statutory definition of consent, the law in the Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes case circumstances where there was no consent.

Absence of consent is determined when there is proof that the defendant achieved their sexual activity through:

  • Threats
  • Intimidation
  • Application of physical force
  • The victim's age, physical disability, or impaired mental capability

If the prosecution could establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the sexual act happened under any of the above-discussed circumstances, you might be sentenced for a sex offense. The legal meaning of threats, intimidation, and physical force is straightforward, particularly in sexual behavior. On the other hand, lack of consent due to physical disability, mental inability, and age need further explanation.

  1. Age of Consent

The age of consent for intercourse is fifteen. However, a minor cannot lawfully consent to sexual acts like anal intercourse, fellatio, and cunnilingus.

  1. Intoxication and Incapacity Might Undermine Consent

The law recognizes two types of incapacity that could affect an individual's ability to give permission: mental and physical.

Physical inability happens when the victim does not realize that the sexual conduct is happening or cannot verbally or physically resist. Physical helplessness occurs when the victim is sedated, paralyzed, asleep, or in a coma.

Mental incapacity can be either permanent or temporary. A victim might not give consent because a developmental disorder affects the cognitive ability to the level that they don't understand the consequences and nature of the conduct. The alleged victim is also unlikely to offer consent due to intoxication.

Penalties for Virginia Sex Crimes

There is a wide range of sex offenses, and every crime has its unique definition and possible penalties. Penalties vary considerably from spending time behind bars to monetary fines. You might also face stigma, challenges pursuing specific educational or employment opportunities, and be banned from living in particular neighborhoods or entering school property.

Forcible sex offenses such as rape are punishable by more harsh sentences than nonforcible sex crimes. Typically, a violent sex crime is a felony and carries the likelihood of life imprisonment without parole.

The possible penalties depend on factors like:

  • The severity of the alleged crime
  • Whether the crime was violent
  • Your criminal record
  • The disability or age of the alleged victim
  • Your mental state, like your intent to infect another with a sexually transmitted disease

For instance, a rape conviction for a minor below 13 is punishable by a minimum five-year sentence. If you are older than 18 and the alleged victim is younger than thirteen, the court might impose a life sentence.

Some sex offenses attract more severe consequences if the alleged victim is a child of a protected class member per Virginia law. It could enhance the consequences to include at least twenty-five years to a compulsory life sentence.

Additionally, the jury or judge has the discretion when determining sentencing, provided the minimum sentence is imposed.

How to Fight Against Sex Crime Charges

Numerous defenses apply in sex offense allegations. Your lawyer could discuss and analyze your case circumstances and determine the best defense. Some of the common defense include:

  • Consent — Sex offenses are founded on the alleged victim not giving consent to the acts. That means if the alleged victim gave your permission, you could not be convicted of a sex crime.
  • Age — You can use this legal defense if you didn't know the victim's age and thought they were of the age of consent. For instance, if you met the victim in an adult environment such as a bar.
  • No resistance — It is not a must that the victim cries out or physically resists against the accused person for the wrongdoing to occur. Nonetheless, the absence of resistance might show that the accuser gave consent or that the accused thought the victim consented.
  • False accusations — Sometimes, a person might make up a story about an offense that didn't happen. The individual might lie due to feeling embarrassed of having consensual sex at a tender age against their parents' values, cheating, revenge, or attempting to gain advantages in a child custody matter.
  • False memory — Sometimes, the alleged victim might have false memories about sexual experiences. Through therapy, the victim might recall the encounter differently than it occurred.
  • Misidentification — A sex offense might have occurred, but the accuser could allege the wrong individual violated the law. The two persons in question might sound or look identical. If the alleged victim was under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the commission of the crime, they might not recall what occurred.

What to Do When Facing Sex Crime Accusations

Sex crime allegations are challenging to handle and could occur due to embarrassment, misunderstanding, or mistaken identity. Irrespective of where the criminal charge stemmed from, here is what you should know to defend your rights, life, and future.

Whether you are falsely accused or not, you should not take the allegations lightly. Police will intensely look into the crime, and it could result in life-changing effects on your livelihood and reputation. As a result, protecting your rights should be a priority.

Understanding the nature of the criminal charge against you assists in taking the required steps when facing sex crime accusations. These steps include:

  • Hiring a defense lawyer — The lawyer will listen to your side of the story, analyze the case facts, and develop the best legal strategies. They will work thoroughly and aggressively to ensure you get the best possible case outcome.
  • Collect evidence and have witnesses — Having witnesses testify about your whereabouts at the time of the crime can make a difference in the case. Also, ensure you collect supporting proof, such as social media posts, time cards, or receipts.
  • Avoid speaking with the investigators without a lawyer — Police will conduct investigations before arresting you to confirm the allegations. These are severe allegations and do not allow the law enforcement agency to downplay that fact. You are entitled to have your lawyer during the questioning and to guard yourself against self-incrimination.
  • Do not contact your accuser — It can be tempting to speak with the accuser to set the record straight. However, doing so can result in more damage.
  • Keep your case details private — Your loved one will express a genuine desire to learn how they can assist and what happened, but you do not know who might hear what you say. Your statement could be improperly related, misunderstood, or misinterpreted and used against you in court.
  • Remain calm and relaxed— Although you face a challenging experience, remaining calm will go a long way when handling your case. Your appearance in front of people and behavior in court plays a significant role in your case. Make sure you think before acting or speaking.

Find a Sex Crime Defense Legal Counsel Near Me

Registering as a sex offender could adversely affect your life and future for years. Therefore, you should know your constitutional rights and obtain the best legal defense. When you consult with Virginia Criminal Attorney, our legal team will offer you excellent legal assistance. Although we could work to end the duty to register as a sex offender, the most effective method to evade the registry is to avoid a sex crime conviction first. We aim to get the charge reduced or even dismissed. If you face a sex crime charge in Northern Virginia and the city of Fairfax, contact us today at 703-718-5533 to schedule your free consultation. The sooner we can analyze the charge, the quicker we can develop your legal defenses.