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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Action Item: Virginia Legislation Needed to Automatically Remove Compliant Non-Violent RSO’s from the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry on their 15th (Year) Anniversary


Back on May 19th I posted that over the following weeks I would post action items taken from my 28 Legislative Fixes (or Goals). 

So far I have posted five times about 6 separate goals and I’m planning 5 more posts about 6 other goals. 

Today’s post is about #8 from my 28 Legislative Fixes (or Goals) which is to automatically remove completely compliant Non-Violent Offenders from the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry on their 15th (year) anniversary with the filing of one form, instead of being required to petition the Courts and most likely being denied.

Some background on Non-Violent / Violent RSO’s in VA:
  • Approximately 17% (per a 2010 FOIA) of Virginia’s RSO’s are classified as Non-Violent; the rest (approximately 83%) are classified as Violent. But don’t forget in 2006 and 2008 the Virginia Legislature took some sexual misdemeanors and elevated them to felonies and because the Legislature did not include a start date the Virginia State Police took that as instruction/direction to retroactively increase thousands (2006- number unknown, 2008-1,492)  of Non-Violent Offenders to Violent, making them “Lifers” and increasing their re-registrations from once per year to every 90 days, without any due process.
  • Before July 1, 2008 Virginia’s Non-Violent RSO’s were required to remain on the VSP Registry for 10 years BEFORE they could petition the court for removal but then the 2008 Virginia Legislature increased it to 15 years and because the Legislature did not include a start date  the Virginia State Police took that as instruction/direction to retroactively apply it to all existing Non-Violent RSO’s AND towards ALL previously removed Non-Violent RSO’s. The VSP tracked down everyone who had successfully petitioned the courts and they slapped them back on the VSP Registry for 5 additional years, without any due process.
OK.

Petitioning Virginia Courts for removal from the VSP Registry requires the petitioner to hire an attorney and to pay for two psychiatrists to evaluate them and then come to court to state the RSO is not a threat to public safety. The Commonwealth Attorney will fight the petition allowing witnesses to come and speak and the Virginia State Police will also testify against the removal. Then it’s up to the judge to decide if removal should occur or not knowing that when the General Assembly is considering them for reappointment that their sign-off on removing an RSO from their requirement to register as a public Sex Offender could be used against them. If the judge refuses to grant the petition the RSO must wait 2 years before trying again. This entire process can cost the petitioner $8,000 to $12,000 and more than a year of their time even if the petitioner has registered on time for 15 years straight and has never had any investigations or charges filed against them but yet they could be stuck on the VSP Registry for life alongside the 83% Violent RSO’s. 

This keeps the VSP Registry overburdened and dilute with those who have not re-offended in 15 years, it adds additional cost to the courts and it wastes already sparse State Police re-registration and residential compliance resources. 

Plus a misdemeanor conviction is not supposed to follow our citizens for decades or even life. In theory a misdemeanor conviction is supposed to be insignificant, but in Virginia sexual misdemeanors can require 15 years to life as a Registered Sex Offender. 

If a Non-Violent RSO has served their mandated time (15 years) on the VSP Registry with exemplary behavior (no new charges, no failures to register) their removal from the VSP Registry should be automatic on their 15th anniversary.