Sex Offender Registration

Introduction

Sex offender registration means you are facing a complicated puzzle of laws and rules that restrict your life. The requirement to register as a sex offender can be devastating to a person’s entire life and lead to the loss of work, friends, and housing. The rules for those required to register are complicated and grow more complicated each year.

Failing to follow the laws around sex offender registration can mean you have to register for a longer period of time and face new criminal charges such as Failure to Register. At The Meryhew Law Group we have successfully defended people against charges of Failure to Register. If you are charged with Failure to Register contact the Meryhew Law Group to discuss your options and the best defense.

The key to success in removing the duty to register is to identify how long you have to register and determine whether you must go back to court to ask a judge to lift the requirement or if registra

If you are a new resident, a returning resident, a student, or are employed in the State of Washington even on a temporary basis, you must register with the local county sheriff where you reside or work within three business days of your arrival in that county, and within three business days of moving to any new address. All offenders required to register must appear in person at the sheriff's office in their county of residence and provide the following:

  • Name
  • Date and Place of Birth
  • Address
  • Place of Employment/School Attending
  • Crime for which Convicted
  • Date and Place of Conviction
  • Alias(es)
  • Social Security Number

The county sheriff will photograph and fingerprint the person and send this information to the State Patrol. A DNA sample must be provided or you could face additional criminal charges. While under probation or community supervision, a registered sex offender must immediately notify their supervising agency of any changes to their address, phone, or employment situations. Registered sex offenders must also notify the local county sheriff at least 21 days in advance in writing any plans to travel internationally.

The laws around sex offender registration are often change and we encourage you to call our office to see if you are eligible to be relieved from the duty to register as a sex offender. Our staff is extremely experienced in helping you lift this burden on you and your family.

Who has to Register?

There are three ways a person has a duty to register in Washington State:

  • A conviction for a sex offense in Washington State. The list below shows all the sex offenses that must register as a sex offender under RCW 9A.44.128(10)(a)-(g):
    • Rape in the First Degree, Second Degree, or Third Degree
    • Rape of a Child First Degree, Second Degree, or Third Degree
    • Child Molestation First Degree, Second Degree, or Third Degree
    • Sexual Misconduct with a Minor First Degree or Second Degree
    • Indecent Liberties with and without Forcible Compulsion
    • Incest First Degree or Second Degree
    • Kidnapping First Degree or Second Degree when victim is a minor and the offender is NOT the minor’s parent
    • Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
    • Possession of Child Pornography
    • Dealing in Depictions of Child Pornography
    • Sending, Bringing in to the State Child Pornography
    • Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes
    • Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor
    • Promoting Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor
    • Promoting Travel for Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor
    • Failure to Register as a Sex Offender Second Offense
    • Any felony with a finding of sexual motivation
    • Any gross misdemeanor that is an attempt to commit a felony sex offense
  • An out-of-state, tribal, federal, military conviction for an offense for which a person was required to register as a sex offender.
  • An out-of-state, tribal, federal, military conviction that under Washington State law would be considered to be a sex offense.
How Long do I Have to Register for?

In most cases, the answer is you do not have to register forever. The length of time you have to register depends on the type of crime you were convicted of and when you were convicted.

The table below breaks down how long a person must register for:

Length of Duty to RegisterType of Conviction(s)Can you be relieved from the duty to register?

Indefinite

Class A convictions in Washington State

Two or more sex offense convictions or

Out-of-State, Tribal, Military, Federal Convictions

Yes

This means your duty to register lasts until a judge you no longer have to.

For WA State adult convictions if you have spent 10 years in the community you can ask a judge to lift the required.

For all other adult convictions, if you have spent 15 years in the community you can ask a judge to lift the required.

For juvenile, you have to wait 2 or 5 years depending on age at time of crime.

Lifetime

If you were found to be a sexually violent predator or

An adult conviction for Rape in the First Degree, Rape in the Second Degree, or Indecent Liberties with Forcible Compulsion that happened AFTER June 8, 2000

No

You can only ask a judge after 15 years of being in the community without any convictions for a disqualifying offense to relieved from community notification

15 Years

Any conviction for a Class B sex offense in Washington State

Yes

For adult convictions if you have spent 10 years in the community you can ask a sheriff’ to lift the required.

For juvenile convictions, you have to wait 2 or 5 years depending on age at time of crime.

At 15 years without any disqualifying offenses, you can ask the sheriff’s office to be removed.

10 Years

Any conviction for a Class C or Gross Misdemeanor in Washington State

Yes for Juveniles Only

At 10 years without any disqualifying offenses, you can ask the sheriff’s office to be removed.

For juvenile convictions, you have to wait 2 or 5 years depending on age at time of crime.


If you Have Been Convicted of a Class B, Class C, or Gross Misdemeanor:

If you have met the time periods listed-above and you have not been convicted of a disqualifying offense, you can write a letter to the local county sheriff asking them to remove you.

Your duty to register WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY END until you write a letter the local county sheriff asking for you to be removed from the sex offender registry.

We have assisted clients throughout Washington State and across the county who have met their time in the community without any disqualifying offenses in successfully ending the duty to register. Please call our offices today if you believe you should no longer be registering as a sex offender.

What if I was Convicted Before July 24, 1991, do I Still Have to Register?

If you were convicted of a sex offense before the law went into effect on July 28, 1991, you may or may not have a duty to register as a sex offender.

The law says if you were in custody (local county jail or prison) or under supervision (juvenile or adult including Department of Corrections and JRA) on or after July 28, 1991 because you were convicted of a sex offense you have a duty to register as a sex offender.

If you are unsure if your conviction requires you to register, please call out offices to see if you in fact have a duty to register.

What if I was Found Guilty or Have Convictions After my Sex Offense Case?

If you were convicted or found guilty of another offense after your sex offense case, you may still be able to petition a court to end the duty to register.

For juvenile cases, a person cannot have a conviction for a subsequent sex offense or a failure to register within 24 or 60 months before filing for relief or after the case was resolved.

For adult cases, a person cannot have a conviction for a disqualifying offense within the last 10 years for Washington State convictions or 15 years for out-of-state, military, tribal, or federal convictions.

A disqualifying offense is a conviction for any felony, any crime against a person1, any crime against children2, any sex offense, two more convictions for failure to register, any crime with the domestic violence designation, permitting the commercial sex abuse of a minor, or any violation of Chapter 9A.883.

What if you have a conviction for one of the crimes listed above? It means will have to wait before you can bring your petition for relief since the conviction restarts the clock.

For example, if you must wait 10 years in the community for an adult conviction for a sex offense and you have a subsequent conviction for Assault in the Fourth Degree, you must wait 10 years after you were sentenced or from the last day of confinement before asking a court to lift your duty to register.

The Process to be Relieved From the Duty to Register

Being relieved from the duty to register is a two-step process: first you must eligible under the law to ask that the sex offender registration be lifted and second you must either ask a judge or the local county sheriff to end your duty to register.

For both adult and juvenile petitions, the Court considers 13 different discretionary factors in determining whether to remove the duty to register. It is important to have a skilled lawyer to properly address each factor when presenting your case to the judge.

More information about the registration removal process can be found here on the Sex Offender Registration Removal page.

What Does Being Relieved From the Duty Register Mean?

If a judge or the local county sheriff ends your duty to register that means you no longer have to report a change in address to law enforcement, you are no longer leveled, and you can travel internationally without informing law enforcement.

It DOES NOT mean you conviction or case history goes away. Only individuals convicted as a juvenile or under 18 years of age can ask a judge in most circumstances to have a case sealed and vacated. To learn more about juvenile sealing please see Sealing the Record of Conviction for Juvenile Offenders page of our website.

Adult convictions cannot be sealed or vacated.

What if I am Charged With Failure to Register as a Sex Offender?

If a person who is required to register knowingly fails to register, or moves to a new residence without notifying the county sheriff, or if they change their name without notifying the county sheriff and the Washington State Patrol, or if they fail to comply with several other requirements and time limits, can be found guilty of a felony and not only go to jail or prison but have their period of registration extended.

At the Meryhew Law Group we have extensive experience helping our clients resolve these charges. In some cases, we have been able to get the underlying duty to register removed for a juvenile offense leading to dismissal or significant reductions in the pending felony charge. In other cases, we are able to explain why our client failed to meet the technical requirements of the law in order to mitigate their actions and get a significantly lower sanction. Defending clients on these charges requires a great deal of knowledge regarding these complex laws, which is what the Meryhew Law Group has to offer.

What if I am on Lifetime Community Custody?

Being relieved from the duty to register as a sex offender does not affect a sentence that includes lifetime community custody or lifetime probation with the Department Corrections. The current law does not allow a person to petition to end lifetime supervision if he or she was convicted of a Class A sex offense that occurred on or after September 1, 2001.

What is Sex Offender Leveling?

Sex offenders in Washington are classified based on their risk to the community as Level I, II or III. Level I offenders pose the least risk and do not appear on the State’s Offender Watch website and are not subject to flyers being mailed to neighbors when they move to a new neighborhood. The Sheriff's Office will set a level of risk, and for those deemed most at-risk flyers are sent to the community and your name and picture appear on a website for your neighbors, employers and others to search. We work hard to ensure that our clients are made a Level I so that they avoid the infamy of the flyers in the neighborhood and the listing on the Offender Watch web site. We have also successfully convinced the Sheriff to reduce that level for clients, which meant they were removed from the web site and community notification was stopped. If the local police have raised your risk level we can help.

  1. A Crime Against a Person is defined RCW 43.43.830. Those crimes mean a conviction of any of the following offenses: Aggravated murder; first or second degree murder; first or second degree kidnapping; first, second, or third degree assault; first, second, or third degree assault of a child; first, second, or third degree rape; first, second, or third degree rape of a child; first or second degree robbery; first degree arson; first degree burglary; first or second degree manslaughter; first or second degree extortion; indecent liberties; incest; vehicular homicide; first degree promoting prostitution; communication with a minor; unlawful imprisonment; simple assault; sexual exploitation of minors; first or second degree criminal mistreatment; endangerment with a controlled substance; child abuse or neglect as defined in RCW 26.44.020; first or second degree custodial interference; first or second degree custodial sexual misconduct; malicious harassment; first, second, or third degree child molestation; first or second degree sexual misconduct with a minor; *patronizing a juvenile prostitute; child abandonment; promoting pornography; selling or distributing erotic material to a minor; custodial assault; violation of child abuse restraining order; child buying or selling; prostitution; felony indecent exposure; criminal abandonment; or any of these crimes as they may be renamed in the future. A Crime Against Persons is further defined in 9.94A.411(2)(a) as: Aggravated Murder, 1st Degree Murder, 2nd Degree Murder, 1st Degree Manslaughter, 2nd Degree Manslaughter, 1st Degree Kidnapping, 2nd Degree Kidnapping, 1st Degree Assault, 2nd Degree Assault, 3rd Degree Assault, 1st Degree Assault of a Child, 2nd Degree Assault of a Child, 3rd Degree Assault of a Child, 1st Degree Rape, 2nd Degree Rape, 3rd Degree Rape, 1st Degree Rape of a Child. 2nd Degree Rape of a Child, 3rd Degree Rape of a Child, 1st Degree Robbery, 2nd Degree Robbery, 1st Degree Arson, 1st Degree Burglary, 1st Degree Identity Theft, 2nd Degree Identity Theft, 1st Degree Extortion, 2nd Degree Extortion, Indecent Liberties, Incest, Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Assault, 1st Degree Child Molestation, 2nd Degree Child Molestation, 3rd Degree Child Molestation, 1st Degree Promoting Prostitution, Intimidating a Juror, Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes, Intimidating a Witness, Intimidating a Public Servant, Bomb Threat (if against person), Unlawful Imprisonment, Promoting a Suicide Attempt, Riot (if against person), Stalking, Custodial Assault, Domestic Violence Court Order Violation (RCW 10.99.040, 10.99.050, 26.09.300, 26.10.220, 26.26.138, 26.50.110, 26.52.070, or 74.34.145), Counterfeiting (if a violation of RCW 9.16.035(4)), Felony Driving a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor or Any Drug (RCW 46.61.502(6)), Felony Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor or Any Drug (RCW 46.61.504(6)).
  2. Crimes against children include the following: Aggravated murder; first or second degree murder; first or second degree kidnapping; first, second, or third degree assault; first, second, or third degree assault of a child; first, second, or third degree rape; first, second, or third degree rape of a child; first or second degree robbery; first degree arson; first degree burglary; first or second degree manslaughter; first or second degree extortion; indecent liberties; incest; vehicular homicide; first degree promoting prostitution; communication with a minor; unlawful imprisonment; simple assault; sexual exploitation of minors; first or second degree criminal mistreatment; endangerment with a controlled substance; child abuse or neglect as defined in RCW 26.44.020; first or second degree custodial interference; first or second degree custodial sexual misconduct; malicious harassment; first, second, or third degree child molestation; first or second degree sexual misconduct with a minor; commercial sexual abuse of a minor; child abandonment; promoting pornography; selling or distributing erotic material to a minor; custodial assault; violation of child abuse restraining order; child buying or selling; prostitution; felony indecent exposure; criminal abandonment; or any of these crimes as they may be renamed in the future.
  3. A violation of Chapter 9A.88 includes the following crimes: Indecent Exposure, Prostitution Degree Promoting Prostitution in the First Degree or Second Degree, Promoting Travel for Prostitution, Permitting Prostitution, Patronizing a Prostitute.