In Washington, the penalties for a sex crime conviction can persist long after a prison or jail term, particularly the duty to register with the state as a sex offender. Failure to register in the manner prescribed by law can result in a new conviction and more jail time. If you have been accused of failing to register as a sex offender, a sex crimes attorney can help you understand your rights and duties, and can defend you against the state’s charges.
Sex Offender Registration Requirements
Anyone convicted, or found not guilty by reason of insanity, of an offense defined in Chapter 9A.44, “Sex Offenses,” of the Revised Code of Washington must register as a sex offender with the sheriff’s department in their county of residence, employment, or school enrollment. People with out-of-state convictions for comparable offenses must also register when they move to Washington. State law mandates a quick deadline for registering, giving people only three days from the date they are released from incarceration, move to this state, or are sentenced without incarceration.
Failure to Register
A person commits the offense of failure to register as a sex offender if they do not register in the manner required by law on or before the deadline. This means that a person commits the offense, as defined by state law, on the fourth day after an event that triggers the duty to register. Law enforcement views this as an ongoing offense, meaning that a person is deemed to have committed the offense of failure to register every day they fail to register, although the state can only prosecute a person fora single offense.
Penalties for Failure to Register
The severity of the offense depends on the underlying conviction that requires registration and the number of prior convictions for failure to register. Failure to register after a felony sex offense conviction is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. For an underlying misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor conviction, failure to register is a gross misdemeanor, which could lead to one year in county jail. If a person has at least two prior convictions for failure to register as a sex offender, a subsequent charge is a class B felony with a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment.
Defense to Failure to Register
Washington’s criminal laws do not specify any defense to a charge of failure to register, except when the sheriff of the county where the defendant must register has already requested the Washington State Patrol to remove the defendant’s name from the state registry.
Criminal defendants have rights in criminal investigations and prosecutions guaranteed by Washington state law and the U.S. Constitution. If you are facing a charge of alleged failure to register as a sex offender, you should seek the assistance of an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer, who can advise you of your rights in both a criminal prosecution and a possible proceeding for relief from the duty to register. Vindicate Law Group has represented defendants in the criminal court systems of Tacoma, Pierce County, and elsewhere in Washington state for over twenty years. Contact us today for your confidential case evaluation, or call (888) 212-4824