Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

Being obliged to register as a sex offender will restrict the way you live. Registration rules can be complicated, and the police will enforce them strictly. Failure to follow the technical requirements of sex offender registration can result in a new criminal charge: failure to register as a sex offender. Being convicted of this new crime can lead to prison time and an extension of your period of registration.

The Marshall Defense Firm can defend you against a charge of failure to register as a sex offender. We are familiar with the rules regarding registration, in all their complications, and we are experienced in defending registered offenders accused of breaking those rules.

Crime and Penalties

The provisions of the crime of failing to register as a sex offender are fairly simple: a knowing failure to comply with the requirements for sex offender registration.

Washington’s registration requirements apply not just to those who have committed sex offenses in Washington, but also those who offended in some other state, even if they are not required to register in the other state.

The complications arise in trying to meet the registration and notification requirements, some of which overlap. The most important requirements for a registered offender are to:

  • Register with a sheriff within three days of being sentenced for a sex or kidnapping offense.
  • Register with the sheriff of the county where they live.
  • Provide notice to a sheriff, within three days, of attending or working at a school, including college or university, even if they are not changing residence. They must also give notice on ending studies or work at the school.
  • Provide 21-day notice to the sheriff of any plan to travel outside the U.S.
  • Provide notice to the sheriff of a change of address.
  • If they don’t have a fixed address, provide notice when moving from the county where they were registered.
  • If they move to Washington, or return to Washington after being away, they must register within three days.
  • If they are visiting Washington, and intend to stay for more than ten days, then they must register within three days of arrival.
  • If they are leaving Washington, they must both provide notice within three days in the new state and provide notice, within three days of moving, to the sheriff of the county where they left.
  • An offender must register within three days of being released from custody. This includes release from custody for any crime, not just those involving the sex offense.

Failing to register can be either a felony or a gross misdemeanor, depending on whether the conviction that required registration was a felony or misdemeanor.

Something important to note: if someone has just been arrested for failing to register, and their defense will be they were not provided notice of registration requirements, then they are obligated to register within three days of arrest.


If you are in that position now, in other words, you have just been arrested, you must act quickly. Otherwise, you will lose this defense.

The Marshall Defense Firm Can Defend You

The Marshall Defense Firm is prepared to defend you against a charge of failure to register as a sex offender. Registration requirements are complex, and the State’s failure to make its case regarding any particular element will end its case. For example, a conviction for failing to register as a sex offender will depend on the validity of the underlying sex offense, which can be separately challenged, particularly if it arises from an offense in a different state.

If the State is claiming you changed residence without providing notification, there must be evidence your residence really did change. For many people, the location of a residence is not always clear-cut.

A charge of failure to register as a sex offender, like any other criminal charge, is usually supported by evidence gathered by police. The Marshall Defense Firm will subject police behavior to intense scrutiny. If the police investigation includes illegal searches, or improper questioning, then any of the evidence thus obtained can be challenged. Through pretrial motions defending your rights, we might be able to prevent that evidence’s being used against you at trial.

Of course, we always look for ways to achieve a client’s objectives without running the risks that go with trial. Sometimes we can get a charge dismissed before trial. Other times, we can negotiate an outcome that our client prefers to the risks of trial.

What it’s Like to Have The Marshall Defense Firm in Your Corner

Respect and compassion are the foundation of our work. We take time to get to know you and your case. It’s where our fierce advocacy for you begins.

Then there’s our experience. For decades we have defended clients against sex crime charges, including failure to register as a sex offender. From that and our on-going study of the law, medicine, and psychology involved in these cases, we have exceptional skill.

And we pool that skill. We work as a team. We know that no one lawyer, no matter how brilliant, will have all the good ideas for your case.

Our final ingredient is relentless investigation and preparation. When we step into court to defend you, we are ready to do it well.

If you or a loved one needs services like ours, contact us at 206.202.1633 or for an appointment.

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