Sex offenders are required by both Federal and Virginia law to register with the sex offender registry. While on the sex offender registry, your freedom may be limited as to where and when you can move, the places you may go, and even what you may do without first notifying law enforcement.
Failure to follow the strict rules associated with the registry can subject you to additional criminal penalties. Understanding whether your offense requires registering as a sex offender and the impacts the regulations will have on your daily life are incredibly important. Virginia attorney Bryan J. Jones can inform you of these requirements and protect your rights.
Depending on the nature of your sex offense, you may be required to register under Federal law, state law, or both.
Virginia law specifies certain offenses which require sex offender registration. The list is not limited only to sex offenses, but can also include criminal homicide, murder, or laws of another jurisdiction which require sex offender registration. Offenses on the registration requirement list include:
Object Sexual Penetration
Sexual battery, Aggravated Sexual Battery
Rape, Attempted Rape
Production, distribution, financing of child pornography
Taking indecent liberties with a minor
Solicitation of a minor
As of July 1, 2020, any individual who is convicted of three or more offenses of unlawfully disseminating or selling images of another person must also register. Individuals must also register if they were required to register in another jurisdiction (in another state besides Virginia) or if they were convicted in another jurisdiction of committing the same types of offenses that are prohibited under Virginia law.
Virginia law also now classifies the offenses requiring registration as Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III offenses. Tier I offenses include the most serious crimes, like murder. Tier III offenses include lesser crimes like videotaping or photographing nude or semi-nude individuals without their consent.
The full list of sex offenses which require sex offender registration is published on the website of the Virginia State Police.
If you have been convicted of a Federal sex crime, you are required to register in all jurisdictions where you work, live, and attend school. This can require that you register in Virginia as well if you work, live, or attend school within the state.
The Adam Walsh Act, found at 42 U.S.C. § 16901 et seq, sets forth the Federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"). Under the act, there are three tiers of registration:
Tier I - Requires registration for 15 years, with the opportunity for removal from the registry after 10 years
Tier II - Requires registration for 25 years, with no opportunity for early removal
Tier III - Requires registration for life. If you were convicted as a juvenile, you may seek removal from the registry after 25 years. If you were convicted as an adult, you cannot be removed from the registry.
Virginia Code § 9.1-903 sets forth the requirements on how to register within the Commonwealth. If you are convicted of one of the offenses on the list, you are required to register within three days of being released from prison or jail. You must provide information to the sheriff or police department in the jurisdiction in which you will reside. That office then submits your information to the Virginia State Police.
At the time of registration, you must:
Have your photograph taken;
Provide a DNA sample for use in the DNA data bank;
Submit your finger and palm prints;
Provide your employment information;
Submit any instant message, email address, or chat user ID;
Provide the registration information for any vehicle, including your car, boat, ATV, etc.;
Provide proof of your place of residence.
You must update your registration within three days of any change in employment or a change in your vehicle registration. If you change your instant message, email address, or other chat user ID you are required to notify the police within 30 minutes of the change.
If you move within Virginia, you are required to register with the sheriff or police in your new place of residence within three days of your move. If you will be leaving Virginia, you must inform the sheriff or police where you were originally registered ten days before you leave the state.
Most offenders are required to register annually. Those convicted of an offense considered a "sexually violent offense" or of murder must renew their registration every 90 days.
If you fail to register or to renew your registration, or you provide false information, your registration requirement can be increased. If you were subject to an annual requirement it is increased to every 180 days. If you were subject to a 90-day registration requirement it is shortened to every 30 days.
If you fail to register or provide false information during registration, you are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia law for a first offense if you were originally convicted of a non-violent sex offense. The usual penalty may include up to 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.00.
Any further failures to register for non-violent offenders is a Class 6 felony and may subject you to one to five years in prison and not exceeding a $2,500.00 fine.
If you fail to register or provide false information and were originally convicted of murder or a violent sex offense, you are guilty of a Class 6 felony. Subsequent offenses are a Class 5 felony, which may result in penalties which include one to ten years in prison and a fine not exceeding $2,500.00.
If you are charged with failure to register as a sex offender, your rights can be seriously affected. An experienced Virginia attorney can help protect defend your case and protect your rights.
Virginia law allows for certain non-violent sex offenders to remove their names from the registry after a period of 15 years. To petition for removal, you must:
Complete all court-ordered counseling and treatment;
Pay all court-ordered restitution;
Demonstrate that you no longer pose a risk to the public safety.
If you have been convicted of a sexually violent offense, murder, or were convicted of two or more offenses you are not eligible to have your name removed from the registry. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be permitted to petition the court for less frequent registration requirements.
If you face conviction for a sex offense, or for failing to register as a sex offender, the help of an attorney is crucial to defending your rights. Every case is unique and experienced attorney Bryan J. Jones can protect you throughout the criminal process. Contact us today.