Being listed on a sex offender registry can dramatically affect someone’s life. Fortunately, for some people, there is a clear path to removing their names from the registry.
Note: This is not the same as having one’s criminal record cleared. That is an entirely different process.
Length of time requirements
The length of time you have to wait before being removed from a sex offender registry in Washington depends on the nature of the conviction. This timeframe can range from 10 years to forever. In cases when the offender is/was a juvenile at the time of the crime, the length of time is often reduced.
This period does not include prison time and any fines or restitution that accompanied the conviction.
Class A offenses
People convicted of these offenses remain on the sex offender registry for the rest of their lives, unless they successfully petition the court to be removed.
Class A sex offenses include first or second degree, child rape in the first and second degree, child molestation in the first degree, indecent liberties by forcible compulsion and promoting the sexual abuse of a minor.
Remaining on the registry indefinitely also applies to people who have been convicted of two or more sex or kidnapping crimes, even if these offenses happened many years apart.
Class B offenses
Someone who has been convicted of a Class B sex offense will have to remain on the registry for 15 years. The requirement automatically expires afterward. In some cases, people with Class B felony convictions can petition to be removed from the sex offender registry after only 10 years.
Class B offenses include child molestation in the second degree, sexual exploitation of a minor, indecent liberties, commercial sex abuse of a minor, and possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct in the second degree.
Class C offenses
For Class C convictions, the requirement to register automatically ends after 10 years. The same is true for gross misdemeanors.
These offenses include rape in the third degree, rape of a child in the third degree, child molestation in the third degree, viewing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct in the second degree, custodial sexual misconduct in the first degree, voyeurism in the first degree, and sexual misconduct in the first degree.
The process for removal from the registry
If you want to be removed from the sex offender registry early or would like to appeal your indefinite registration requirements, a strong petition will be necessary with “clear and convincing evidence” that you have reformed and become a productive member of society.
The court will consider numerous factors, such as the nature of the crime(s), any other criminal history, cooperation with one’s parole officer or supervisor, how much time has passed since the crime, testimony from the victim and corrections officers, financial stability, and a risk assessment, among others.
Again, this process is only available to people who have served their time and are now on a law-abiding path. People currently facing sex offense charges or who have been recently convicted of these crimes can only appeal their cases through a criminal defense attorney.