While adopting a child is a wonderfully rewarding experience. The adoption process is legally complicated and can take a toll on you. The adoption agency must carry out an approved home study for every prospective adoptive family and adult living in the home. Although the adoption agencies want every child to be in a loving family, the safety and welfare of the child are a priority. Therefore, you may need to undergo a social and criminal background check before you are allowed to adopt.
Not all families or individuals can enjoy the opportunity to adopt a child. If you have been convicted of violent sex offenses like sodomy, rape, or other offenses requiring sex offender registration, you will not be allowed to adopt a child in Virginia. Therefore, when you face charges for these offenses, you must fight as hard as possible to avoid a conviction and the consequences that accompany these convictions. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we will guide you through the situation to ensure the best possible outcome. We serve clients seeking legal guidance in Fairfax and Northern Virginia.
Overview of Child Adoption in Virginia
Adoption is a legal and social process that allows children who have been separated from their birth parents to be placed in a stable and loving home. When you adopt a child, you are given the same responsibility and rights enjoyed by biological parents. Adoption is a very specialized area of the law, and any mistakes could delay the process or invalidate it.
It is a great honor to be able to add a child to your family and give them your best. However, not all couples or families can be able to adopt a child into their homes. In most adoption processes, the adoption agency will carry out a study to review the different aspects of the lives of the individuals adopting the child or living in the home. One of the areas that can be very extensive during the adoption process is the criminal background of individuals living in the area.
Most criminal records are accessible to the public in Virginia. Therefore, any offenses you may have committed may be used as a basis for delaying your adoption process. In Virginia, the law used by the adoption agencies seeks to protect children. Therefore, if you are labeled as a violent sexual offender, you will not be allowed to adopt a child. If you are convicted of a serious sex crime in California, you will be required to register as a sex offender, which will identify you.
Crimes that Make You a Violent Sex Offender in Virginia
In Virginia, you will not be able to adopt a child into your family when you are a violent sex offender. Some of the crimes that could cause you to be labeled as a violent sex offender include:
Object Sexual Penetration
You can be found guilty of object sexual penetration for penetrating the vagina or anus of another person using an inanimate object without their consent. Object sexual penetration is a severe violation of Virginia Code section 18.2-67-2. The crime of object sexual penetration is charged when:
- The alleged victim was a minor under the age of thirteen years.
- The victim did not consent to the act, and you accomplished it by intimidation, force, or violence.
- The alleged victim was mentally or physically incapacitated and could not defend themselves.
Additionally, you can be charged with this crime f you cause another person to penetrate the victim. In Virginia, charges for forcible sexual penetration are as severe as those of rape. A conviction under Virginia Code Section 18.2-67.2 is punishable by a minimum prison sentence of five years.
If the defendant is older than the victim by three years, a conviction could attract a twenty-five years prison sentence. If you are over eighteen years and face charges for object sexual penetration on a child under thirteen years, you could spend the rest of your life in prison. Sometimes, sexual penetration with an inanimate object is charged alongside other sexual crimes. This could result in additional penalties.
In addition to prison time, a conviction for forcible penetration of a minor will result in a mandatory requirement to register as a sex offender.
You can face arrest and criminal charges for sodomy if you force another person into acts such as anilingus, cunnilingus, or anal intercourse. In Virginia, the basis for forcible sodomy is that you act through sheer force, intimidation, or threats. Although forcible sodomy is a severe offense, some factors could aggravate the offense's consequences. Some of the aggravating factors that the judge could consider are:
- You committed the crime against an individual with physical or mental incapacity.
- The victim of the forcible sodomy was a child under thirteen years of age.
- It is proven that you kidnapped, harassed, or beat the alleged victim so you could accomplish the act.
A conviction for sodomy attracts a minimum prison sentence of up to five years. However, a conviction will result in more prison time when any aggravating factors are present. Forcible sodomy committed against a disabled victim or a child will automatically result in a requirement to register as a sex offender. This will label you as a violent sex offender and make it impossible for you to go through the adoption process.
If you face criminal charges for forcible sexual penetration, you will require the insight of a skilled criminal attorney. Being able to defend against the charges and avoid a conviction can help you avoid the harsh consequences associated with the offense. Some of the most common defenses available for this offense include claiming that the alleged victim consented to the act and disputing the victim's age. Additionally, you can argue that you are a victim of false allegations of mistaken identity.
In Virginia, rape is one of the most serious offenses that you can commit against another person. Whether you were convicted or acquitted of the crime, you could face serious consequences for the crime. In addition to the severe legal penalties, a conviction for rape taints your criminal record and affects your acceptance in the community. If the adoption agency discovers that you have a rape conviction on your record, the court could invalidate your process of adopting or fostering a child.
Under Virginia Code Section 18.2.61, rape is a crime resulting from non-consensual sexual intercourse accomplished against another person using force, fear, or violence, or the victim is under thirteen years. When you face rape charges in Virginia, several aggravating and mitigating factors are considered during your prosecution and sentencing.
If you are convicted of rape in Virginia, you may be sentenced to life imprisonment in addition to the sentence you must serve. A rape case has a wide variety of evidence, including physical evidence, DNA evidence, and witness testimony. Rape is a severe charge, and when the critical piece of evidence is available, securing a conviction is easy. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is crucial.
Taking Indecent Liberties With a Child
In Virginia, sex crimes involving children are prosecuted severely. Whether true or not, allegations of indecent liberties with a child could tarnish your reputation and affect your social and professional life. You commit a crime f taking indecent liberties with a child when you willfully and knowingly show your sexual organs to a child with lustful intentions. Additionally, you can be charged with this crime for proposing that a child feel, fondle your genitals or ask them to perform an act of sexual intercourse.
Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Minor
Under Virginia Code 18.2-67.3, aggravated is the crime you commit when you unlawfully touch an intimate part of another person’s body for sexual abuse. To be charged with aggravated sexual battery, your actions must be accompanied by aggravating factors, such as the victim being a child under thirteen years. Additionally, this statute covers the act of sexual battery committed against victims of thirteen to fifteen years accomplished through force, fear, or intimidation.
Before you face a conviction for aggravated sexual battery in Virginia, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
- You sexually abused an individual under the age of thirteen years.
- The victim was physically disabled or mentally incapacitated during the crime commission.
- The alleged victim was thirteen years old and not more than eighteen years.
- You accomplished the crime using force, violence, fear, or intimidation.
Aggravated sexual battery is a class one felony punishable by a twenty-year prison sentence and fines not exceeding$100,000. Additionally, it is essential to understand that any attempt to commit the crime of aggravated battery could be charged as a class six felony and attract severe legal penalties. In addition to prison time, aggravated sexual battery is one of the violent felonies and crimes that require sex offender registration.
Under VA Statue 18.2-374.1:1, it is a crime to intentionally possess, keep, obtain, or distribute child pornography. If you or a loved one faces charges for child pornography, it would be best to fight the charges with guidance from a skilled criminal attorney. Due to the increased use of the internet, crimes of child pornography have been on the rise. Therefore, Virginia law seeks to harshly prosecute and punish individuals involved in the making and distributing this content.
For this statute, child pornography is considered an image or video that depicts a minor engaging in sexual activity. However, the following content is exempt from the child pornography laws:
- Images stored for scientific or medical purposes
- Images stored by individuals in law enforcement, physicians, lawyers, or psychologists
- Images obtained by a judge presiding over criminal proceedings
During the investigation of your case, the court may seize all the devices used in making and distributing the harmful materials. Your home or business premise could be thoroughly searched to recover any material supporting child pornography allegations.
In Virginia, possession and distribution of child pornography are charged as a class six felony. A conviction, in this case, could result in a five-year prison sentence. Additionally, you could face a one-year jail sentence with fines amounting to $2500.
Carnal Knowledge of a Child
Virginia Code Section 18.2-63 makes it illegal to have carnal knowledge of a minor between thirteen to fifteen years. This statute prohibits any form of sexual contact between the defendant and a minor. Sexual contact, in this case, could be rape, oral sex, or anal sex. Having carnal knowledge of a child is a form of statutory rape that could expose you to a wide range of life-changing consequences.
Before a conviction for this offense in Virginia, the prosecution must prove that you engaged in a sexual act with a person between thirteen to fifteen years. The exact penalties you face after a conviction for carnal knowledge vary depending on the age difference between the victim and the defendant. Carnal knowledge between an individual over eighteen years and a child is a class 4 felony punishable by a ten years prison sentence and fines not exceeding $100,000.
If both the victim and the defendant are minors, the offense could be reduced to a Class 6 felony which attracts a five-year prison sentence and a $2500 fine. If both parties are minors and their age difference is not more than three years, the defendant may not spend any time in jail.
Regardless of the circumstances, all instances of carnal knowledge with a minor result in serious criminal charges. Additionally, a person convicted of the offense must register as a sex offender and remain there for a lifetime.
Sex Offender Registry Removal
If you face a conviction for a violent sex crime in Virginia, you will be legally required to register as a sex offender. Sex offender registration requires you to physically go to the sheriff’s office to provide your name, proof of residence, and other information regarding your arrest and conviction. In addition to the social stigma associated with sex offender registration, you may not be able to adopt a child in Virginia with such a status.
If you have been wrongfully accused of a sex crime that will require you to register as a sex offender, you must fight the charges as hard as possible to avoid a conviction and stay out of the sex offender registry. Sex offender registration is categorized into three tiers:
Tier 1 Sex Offenses
You may be required to register as a tier one sex offender if you are convicted for a less serious sex offense like:
- Unlawful dissemination or sale of another person’s age.
- Aiding in the prostitution of an individual under eighteen years.
- Taking or detaining a child for prostitution.
Tier 2 Sex Offenses
Tier two sex offender registration is for offenses like:
- Carnal knowledge of a child under fifteen years in your care.
- Indecent liberties with a child.
- Child pornography.
Tier 3 Sex Offenses
A conviction for the most serious sex offenses often results in tier three sex offender registration. Some of the common offenses classified under tier three include:
- Child pornography
- Sex trafficking
- Abduction for immoral purposes
- Sexual contact with a child under 13 years
Some of the information that you must provide during sex offender registration include:
- Employment information
- Proof of residence
- Your fingerprints
- Vehicle registration information
- Your photo
- A DNA sample
Every time you change your residential area, you must update your sex offender registration. Often, the sex offender registry is a public record in Virginia. During a background check, the sex offender status will be discovered and may be a basis for denying you a job. Additionally, being a violent sex offender makes it impossible for you to adopt a child. Criminal Background checks are inevitable during a child adoption process in Virginia. Therefore, you can avoid this inconvenience by fighting to have your name removed from the registry.
If you are a non-violent sex offender, you may be able to have your name removed from the sex offender registry under Virginia Code 9.9-910.
If, after fifteen years of being in the registry, you have completed all your court-ordered counseling and proven that you are no longer a threat to the safety of other people in the community, you can be relieved from the disabilities associated with this status.
However, if you are a convicted murderer or have a record of a violent sex crime, you may not be eligible for removal. Additionally, repeat sex offenders cannot be removed from the sex offender registry. If you seek to adopt a child in Virginia, your attorney can review your status to determine whether you are eligible for removal from the sex-offender registry.
Whether or not your name can be removed from the Virginia sex offender registry will determine the court's approval. The court will approve your petition for removal from the registry when you meet the following criteria:
- You have not been convicted of multiple offenses. You must not have been convicted for more than one sex offense during your registration requirement.
- You have waited for fifteen to twenty-five years. For most non-violent sex offenders, you must have waited for fifteen to twenty-five years before you attempt to have your name removed from the registry. Your attorney can confirm the length of time you must stay in the registry before you are eligible for removal.
- You were convicted for a non-violent sex offense. There are two categories of sex offenders in Virginia. Some of the offenses deemed violent sex offenses include sexual penetration with an object, indecent liberty with a child, and sodomy, among others. Most violent sex offenders are not eligible for removal from the sex offender registry. If you face charges for a violent sex offense, it would be wise to fight and reduce it to a non-violent offense.
Process of Removal from the Sex-Offender List in Virginia
The following are the steps you must take to remove your name from the sex offender registry:
- Review your eligibility. It is crucial to check whether you meet all the requirements before you begin having your name removed from the Virginia sex offender registry.
- File a petition. After verifying that you are eligible for removal from the registry, you can file a petition in the jurisdiction where you live. Since you update your status every time you move, you will be removed from where you live and not where you were registered.
- Wait for a court review. Once you have filed a petition, the court will review it by assessing your criminal records and sex offender registration status. If the court agrees to your eligibility, they will schedule a removal hearing.
- Attend the hearing. The prosecutor is part of your petition, and while they may not go against your petition, they could recommend that you remain in the registry. In this case, the prosecution will shoulder the burden to prove without a reasonable doubt that you are still a danger to the community. After your attorney has presented the petition and the prosecutor gives their insight, the judge will decide whether to remove your name and information from the sex offender registry.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
The decision to adopt a child into your family is significant and rewarding. However, not all individuals are allowed to adopt children in Virginia. The child adoption process is long, and it involves legal scrutiny. The law will check the stability of your family relationships and your ability to support the child you take into your family financially. Additionally, the court will check your criminal history. If you are a violent sex offender, the chances are that you cannot adopt a child in Virginia.
Under Virginia law, sex offenses are categorized into violent and non-violent crimes. Violent sex offenses that could disqualify you from fulfilling your dream of adding another child into your family may include sodomy, forced sexual penetration, indecent liberties with a child, and rape. If you are facing disqualification from adopting a child for having a sex offense on your record, you will require the guidance of a skilled criminal attorney. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we will offer you the legal guidance and representation you need to navigate the challenging process in Fairfax and Northern Virginia. Call us today at 703-718-5533.