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Monday, July 28, 2014

Removal and/or Relief from Re-Registration of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry

 

Note: The VA statute links below from 2014 have expired. Virginia moved all legal statutes to a new website http://law.lis.virginia.gov/

Removal of Name and Information from VSP Registry: http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title9.1/chapter9/section9.1-910/


 

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One of the more common questions I receive from readers is…… 

How long do I have to register? 

As of July 1, 2008, any Registrant classified as “Non-Violent” must remain on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry for a minimum of 15 years before they can petition the court to be removed. The 2008 Virginia General Assembly increased the minimum time from 10 to 15 years, retroactive to everyone in an attempt to become Federally Adam Walsh Act compliant, as of 2014 Virginia is NOT compliant. When this change occurred in 2008 some offenders that had been successful in a petition to be removed back in 2006 and 2007 were put BACK on the VSP Virginia Registry for an additional 5 years before they can petition for removal, again. 
 

Removal of Name and Information from Registry: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+9.1-910 

To do this you will need to hire an attorney and 2 psychologists who specialize in sex offenders. 

This will cost anywhere from $3,500-$8,500 and the court may still deny the request. If denied you must wait 24 months before you can reapply/repetition the court. 
 
I have been unable to find the success rate of removal or even the number of petitions filed from the VSP Registry, as my previous FOIA request was denied by the VSP. 

Oh, and if you petition for removal be prepared for representatives from the VSP to first delay your request/submission (for months) by not submitting the VSP paperwork on your years of re-registrations with the VSP and then when a hearing finally occurs the VSP shows up to  oppose your petition the judge. Yes the Virginia State Police, the monitor and manager of Virginia’s RSO, the owner of our Registry will most likely fight your removal and argue you should not be removed! Keeping our Registry full of names, face and addresses, bloated with those pose no risk and diverting resources away from those who actually do pose a risk. Gotta to keep the list growing otherwise it doesn’t appear to be affective and funding could be cut.

But if successful, you would be removed from the VSP Virginia Sex Offender Registry and no longer obligated to abide by the legal restrictions imposed upon Virginia RSO’s. The VSP should at that time also notify the National Sex Offender Registry. But the state of Virginia is NOT required/obligated to notify any of the other independent websites that track Sex Offenders in the U.S, and those sites may keep your out-dated information posted on-line unless you take legal action against them. 

The majority of the Virginia Registry (83+ %) population is classified as “Violent” mostly because in 2006 and 2008, the Virginia General Assembly retroactively and with no due process reclassified almost all Non-Violent offenders to Violent this action made most RSO's “Lifers”  with no opportunity to petition for removal and increasing their mandated re-registration from once a year to every 90 days. I do not know the actual numbers of Virginians that were re-classified by the VSP because of these two legislative changes, as all my FOIA requests for these numbers have been denied by the VSP. 

There is a small group of Violent Offenders who are not considered “Lifers” because they are allowed to petition the courts after 25 years on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry.   
 
Per a 2011 Virginia State Crime Commission PowerPoint presentation 

If the offense was carnal knowledge of a detained juvenile by someone who provides services to juveniles under the purview of either a JDR court or DJJ; or the reproduction or distribution of child pornography; or the use of a communications system to solicit a juvenile for a sexual purpose, then the person must wait 25 years before petitioning to be removed. 

The rest of the Violent registrants are “Lifers”. 

Now, if you are classified as Violent and have registered faithfully every 90 days for at least 5 years you can apply for:

Relief from Registration or Re-registration: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+9.1-909

This would reduce your re-registrations from every 90 days to just once a year. 

But you must have a perfect re-registration record with no new convictions including failure to register. 

Any Virginia offender with a failure to register conviction could be:
  1. Required to reregister every 30 days
  2. Increased from Non-Violent to Violent classification
  3. Prohibited from petitioning for removal or relief
Relief from Registration or Re-registration: Per the statute the cost of 3 sex offender treatment providers to evaluate the registrant and to submit their evaluations to the court as a non-threat will be added to the overall cost of the proceedings (back to the registrant). If denied, any appeal must be filed with the Virginia Supreme Court. 

I do not know what the success rate of relief from registration or re-registration from the VSP Registry is. 

If you are a registrant who is mentally or physically incapable of re-registering per the statute you may also apply for Relief from Registration or Re-registration. A comprehensive assessment of the registrant/applicant by at least two licensed physicians other than the person's primary care physician is required and the cost of these evaluations will be added to the overall cost of the proceedings (back to the registrant). If you are successful from being relieved of registration, the VSP will have to report quarterly that the registrant is still unable to comply with re-registration and they will still conduct residential compliance checks twice a year. If denied, any appeal must be filed with the Virginia Supreme Court. 

I do not know what the success rate of relief from registration or re-registration due to mental or physical incapacity from the VSP Registry is. 

I hope some of you who qualify for removal now or in the next few years will petition the courts. 

I hope that those of you who are registering faithfully every 90 days and want to only re-register once a year will petition the courts for relief from re-registration. 

These options while timely and expensive are available and we should all be accessing them as often as possible. You never know when a lawmaker may attempt to change the rules of the game, again.

Good luck and let me know how it goes. 

Mary Devoy