If you’re legally required to register as a sex offender, you know it can be a rugged way to live. It’s the modern scarlet letter. Most likely you’re looking forward to the day when you no longer have to put up with the many hassles and embarrassments that go along with sex offender registration.
So is it possible to get this burden lifted early? If so, how and when? Will you need a lawyer to help you? The more information you have, the better prepared you will be to get relieved of the duty to register as soon as possible.
How long does the registration requirement last?
The process for getting relief from sex offender registration has a great deal to do with the specifics of your individual situation, as the court has discretion to end some registration periods early but lacks the power to do it in others. But there are some standard procedures that apply to everyone.
First, you should make sure you know how long your registration requirement is and how much time you have left. This will depend on your underlying conviction. In Washington, the requirements are as follows:
|Class A Felony (and offenders with 2 or more sex offense convictions of any class)||Indefinite|
|Class B Felony||15 years|
|Class C Felony||10 years|
If you find that you only have a short time left during which you are required to register, it generally makes more sense to finish out your required registration time. Washington law does provide a way for offenders who qualify to get their duty to register lifted early, but this possibility typically only makes sense for individuals with indefinite registration requirements.
What qualifies me to end my registration requirement early?
Under Washington State law, registrants who want to be removed from the registry before the time requirement has elapsed must petition the superior court. This petition must explain to the court that you meet one of the following criteria:
- The offense was committed when you were a juvenile (the conviction does not necessarily have to have been in Washington State)
- You have spent 10 consecutive years in the community without being convicted of a disqualifying offense
- If the registration requirement is for a federal, tribal, or out-of-state conviction, you must have spent 15 consecutive years in the community without a disqualifying offense
Except for persons found guilty only of juvenile offenses, individuals have to register for at least ten years. That’s spelled out in the law for some, and the practical reality for others.
If I qualify, what does the court want to see in my petition?
Here’s where your attorney comes in. Working with your attorney to provide important facts about your life post-conviction, you must show the court that you are sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant removal from the sex offender registry. These facts may include:
- The nature of your offense
- Your compliance with supervision requirements
- The time since the incident(s) giving rise to your conviction occurred
- Input from community corrections officers, law enforcement, or treatment providers
- Participation in sex offender treatment
- Participation in other treatment and rehabilitative programs
- Your stability in employment and housing
- Your community and personal support system
- Risk assessments or evaluations prepared by a qualified professional
- Any input from the victim
- Other factors the court may consider relevant
Of course, the court won’t just consider the progress you’ve made since your conviction. It can also consider any negative post-conviction facts. Points that may weigh against you include:
- Any subsequent criminal history
- Failure to register during the time period you were required to do so
- If you have been determined to be a sexually violent predator
How do I get help?
Petitioning for relief from the duty to register as a sex offender requires both careful consideration and close consultation with your attorney. If you feel you may have a good case for petitioning the court to relieve you from the duty to register, it’s important to get solid advice and assistance from an attorney you trust. Please call the Marshall Defense Firm at 206-826-1400 to find out how we may be able to help you.