If you are convicted of certain sex crimes in Virginia, you’ll be required to register as a sex offender. This means going, in person, to the police department or sheriff’s office where you live and providing your name, proof of residence, recent photographs, information regarding your conviction, and other personal information.
This system leads to significant stigma. Employers may not want to give you jobs. Landlords may not rent to you. Neighbors might make it clear you’re not welcome. You might even suffer harassment.
At Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico, we’ve helped those wrongly accused of sex crimes prove their innocence and assisted others in mitigating the consequences of a conviction. We are also available to help individuals remove themselves from the Virginia sex offender registry.
Who Must Register as a Sex Offender In Virginia?
Some of the common sex crime offenses that could get you on the sex offender registry in Virginia include:
- Possession of child pornography
- Child-involved sex crimes
- Other child porn-related crimes
- Sexual contact with a minor under 13
- Carnal knowledge of a minor
- Sexual assault or battery
- Attempted rape
- Forcible sodomy
- Sexual penetration with an object
These are only a few of the different sex crime convictions that require sex offender registration as part of the sentencing. You can find other sex crime offenses that will require registration when you visit the Virginia State Police website.
Other criminal convictions could also land you on the sex offender registry. The Code of Virginia classifies sex offender registry offenses into three tiers.
Tier 1 Sex Offenses
Tier one contains the less severe types of crimes, some of which could include:
- Unlawful dissemination or sale of an image of another
- Aiding in prostitution of a victim under 18
- Entering the dwelling of a house with intent to commit a felony
- Aggravated malicious wounding with a victim under 13
- Taking or detaining a minor for prostitution
Tier 2 Sex Offenses
Then you have the second tier of offenses. Some of the crimes included are:
- Carnal knowledge of a minor – over 15 – in a supervisory relationship
- Use of communication systems to solicit a minor
- Indecent liberties with a minor
- Child pornography
Tier 3 Sex Offenses
Finally, we have the third tier of crimes. These contain some of the most severe offenses:
- Marital sexual assault
- Child pornography
- Abduction of a child for extortion
- Crimes against nature (sodomy)
- Sex trafficking
- Sexual contact with a victim under 13
- Abduction for immoral purposes
Where You Have to Register
Keep in mind that individuals required to register as sex offenders must follow the jurisdiction requirements where they were initially convicted and Virginia’s laws.
For example, let’s say you were convicted and required to register as a sex offender in New York State. But you are planning on spending six months in Roanoke. You would need to follow the registration requirements in New York and Virginia since the original offense occurred in New York.
Essentially, if you were convicted and required to register in another state, you will need to register as a sex offender in Virginia as well.
Virginia Sex Offender Registry Requirements
When you are required to register as a sex offender in Virginia, you must add your information to the registry within three days of your release from jail or prison.
Some of the information that you need to provide when registering as a sex offender include:
- Proof of residence
- Your employment information
- Your vehicle registration information
- Your fingerprints
- Your palm prints
- Your email address and social media handles
- Your photo will be taken
- You will need to provide a DNA sample
Once released, you will go to the city police department where you will be living to provide them with your information. From there, the sheriff will forward your sex offender registration to Virginia State Police.
If you intend on moving within the state of Virginia, you will need to be sure to register with the police department in your new city within three days of your move. If you plan to move out of Virginia, you will need to inform your city’s police department – where you should be currently registered – 10 days before moving.
You will also need to update your information as required. If you got a new job, for example, or registered a new vehicle, you will need to inform the police department within three days of the change.
Finally, if you open a new social media account, email address, or change your current information, you must notify the police within 30 minutes.
Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Failure to register as a sex offender when you are required to do so is a crime. If this is the first time you have been accused of failing to register as a sex offender for a non-violent offense, you face a Class 1 misdemeanor. If found guilty, you could spend up to 12 months in jail. You could pay fines up to $2,500 as well.
Non-violent sex offenders who continue to fail to register their status can be charged with a Class 6 felony. If found guilty, you could spend as much as five years in prison. You could also be ordered to pay fines as high as $2,500.
People convicted of violent crimes are immediately subject to Class 6 felony charges. Offenders who habitually fail to register face more severe penalties. You could be charged with a Class 5 felony. These are punishable by a maximum prison term of 10 years and fines not to exceed $2,500.
The penalties for failing to register as a sex offender can be devastating. When you have begun to get your life back on track, this is the last thing you need. A criminal defense lawyer could help defend you in court or even petition to remove your registry requirement.
Virginia Sex Offender Registry Removal
Virginia Code §9.1-910 allows some non-violent sex offenders to have their names removed from the sex offender registry after 15 years. To be removed, you have to:
- Complete all court-ordered treatment, counseling, and payment of restitution
- Demonstrate to the court that you no longer pose a risk to public safety
This option is not available to anyone convicted of murder, a sexually violent offense, or anyone convicted of two or more offenses.
Offenders whose convictions were for carnal knowledge of a minor, communicating with a minor, or distributing child pornography must wait 25 years to petition for removal from the registry.
How To Get Removed From the Sex Offender Registry
Suppose you were previously convicted of a sex offense in the U.S. You are currently listed on Virginia’s sex offender registry. In that case, it is important to know the requirements you must adhere to. For instance, there are many situations in which you cannot have your name removed from the list. After convictions for certain crimes, sex offender registration means a lifetime requirement.
You may be eligible to have your name and information removed from the public list in certain circumstances. To determine if this is an option, you need to speak to a local sex crime lawyer.
Eligibility for Removal
Whether or not you can have your information removed from the sex offender registry depends on your eligibility and court approval. The elements of eligibility are found in Virginia Code §9.1-910.
To be eligible for a removal hearing, you must meet the following:
Convicted of a Non-Violent Sex Offense
In Virginia, there are two kinds of sex offenders – violent offenders and non-violent offenders. If you were convicted of a sexually violent offense, then you are never eligible for removal. This is because sexually violent crimes are defined by law, not your actions.
Certain offenses in Virginia are automatically deemed violent, including rape, forcible sodomy, sexual penetration with an object, abduction for immoral purposes, and indecent liberties with a minor.
You are also a violent offender if you are convicted of murdering a minor under the age of 15 or of murdering a minor under the age of 18 in connection with a sex offense.
Not Been Convicted of Two or More Offenses
You become ineligible for removal from the sex offender list if you were convicted of at least two sex offenses during your registration requirement, including two non-violent sex crimes.
Completed All Required Treatment, Counseling, and Restitution
Following a sex crime conviction, your penalty may include many aspects in addition to incarceration. For example, you may be required to undergo extensive counseling and treatment for mental health disorders or drug or alcohol dependency.
You also may be required to pay restitution to the victims of your crimes. You are never eligible for removal until all these requirements are completed.
Have Waited 15 or 25 Years From the Date of Your Initial Registration
For many non-violent sex offenses, you must have fulfilled your registration requirement for at least 15 years. However, several non-violent offenses require 25 years of registration, such as selling or distributing child pornography and soliciting a minor through any electronic means with lascivious intent.
You should speak with our lawyers to determine how long you must register before being eligible for removal.
How To Get Off the Sex Offender List
If you hope to get your name removed from the sex offender registry in Virginia, you need to do the following.
Review Your Eligibility
If you have reviewed the eligibility requirements above and believe you may qualify for sex offender registry removal, call our sex offense lawyers at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico right away. We will carefully review each element of eligibility under the law.
File a Petition
We have verified that you are eligible for removal. Our next step will be to file a petition for removal. This will be in the jurisdiction where you currently live. This is where you are required to register. You do not ask to be removed in the place where you were convicted.
You could have been convicted of a sex crime in Florida. But you moved to Virginia after you were released from prison. You are required to register in the current county where you live. So that is where you ask to be taken off the list.
Wait for the Court Review
Once the petition is filed, it will be reviewed by the court. The court is going to review your complete criminal history, the records regarding your sex offense, and your registration history. If the court agrees you are eligible for removal, a hearing will be scheduled.
Prepare for Prosecutorial Discretion
The state becomes a party to your petition. This means a prosecutor will be involved. A prosecutor may not argue with your petition. However, a prosecutor can also take the stance that you should not be removed from the list based on the belief you are a danger to the public.
Attend the Removal Hearing
During the hearing, the prosecutor and your lawyer each have the opportunity to present evidence and witness testimony. If a prosecutor wants you to remain on the list, they have the burden of proving you are still a danger. Your attorney will present evidence to the contrary.
It is up to the judge whether your name and information can be removed from the sex offender registry. If the court approves your request, your attorney can help you communicate with local law enforcement and remove the information.
Did the judge deny your petition for sex offender registry removal? You must wait at least 24 months from the date of the denial to file a new petition. Valid petitions are rarely denied; however, Virginia law does provide you with another chance to try again.
Read our blog post for more information on how to be removed from the Virginia sex offender registry.
Contact a Roanoke Defense Lawyer About Your Removal
We are here to analyze your circumstances regarding Virginia law and ensure you fully understand your legal rights concerning sex offender registration. Have an experienced lawyer review your eligibility for sex offender registry removal in Roanoke.