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Relief From Duty to Register as a Sex Offender

Sex and kidnapping offender registration can have life changing consequences and pose serious challenges to a person's effort to obtain housing, employment or an education. This burden can be especially heavy for juveniles convicted of sex offenses. The law in Washington State has allowed those convicted of sex and kidnapping offenses to be relieved of that duty under certain circumstances. Washington State law currently provides for a hybrid approach to ending the duty to register as a sex or kidnapping offender. Some offenses provide for the automatic termination of the duty after the offender has spent a specified period of time in the community without any new serious criminal convictions, while other offenses require the person to petition the Court for a discretionary ruling. Only relatively few offenses have lifetime registration without any mechanism for relief from that duty. The duty to register in Washington State, as well as the duration of the duty and terms for termination, are based upon the type of offense, the date of the conviction, and the offender's age at the time of the offense.

Eligibility Requirements

RCW §9A.44.140 provides that the eligibility requirements for relief from the duty to register as a sex offender depends on the type of offense. Some offenses result in automatic expiration, while others require the offender to file a petition. The different requirements are as follows:

  1. Offenses that Provide for Automatic Expiration (pursuant to RCW §9A.44.141):
    1. Class B Felonies: Fifteen years before automatic expiration.
    2. Class C Felonies: Ten years before automatic expiration.
    3. Gross Misdemeanors: Ten years before automatic expiration.
  2. Offenses that Require Petitions (pursuant to RCW §9A.44.142 and RCW §9A.44.143):
    1. Juvenile Offenders with Prior Sex or Kidnapping Offenses: May petition after ten years.
    2. Class A Felonies: May petition after ten years.
    3. Class B Felonies: May petition after ten years.
    4. Repeat Sex Offenders: May petition after ten years.
    5. Out of State and Federal Adult Offenders: May petition after fifteen years.

In determining whether the petitioner is sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant removal from the registry, the following factors are provided as guidance to assist the court in making its determination:

  1. The nature of the registrable offense committed including the number of victims and the length of the offense history;
  2. Any subsequent criminal history;
  3. The petitioner's compliance with supervision requirements;
  4. The length of time since the charged incident(s) occurred;
  5. Any input from community corrections officers, law enforcement, or treatment providers;
  6. Participation in sex offender treatment;
  7. Participation in other treatment and rehabilitative programs;
  8. The offender's stability in employment and housing;
  9. The offender's community and personal support system;
  10. Any risk assessments or evaluations prepared by a qualified professional;
  11. Any updated polygraph examination;
  12. Any input of the victim;
  13. Any other factors the court may consider relevant.
The Process

It is necessary to first review your conviction record and relevant court documents to determine your eligibility for relief. If you are eligible for relief you must obtain certified copies of all necessary court documents, set up a risk-assessment and a polygraph, prepare a Petition and Order, file those pleadings with the Superior Court and the prosecutor's office and appear at a hearing on the matter before the court. The process of obtaining relief from your duty to register as a sex offender can be complicated, particularly given the numerous steps and consideration of various factors. Obtaining relief is crucial and it is strongly advised that you enlist in the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney for the best possible results.

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