Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Washington State
At Findley & Rogers, we can help you end your sex offender registration requirement, but today, let’s look at the issue of failing to register as a sex offender while your registration requirement is still in effect.
What is the Sex Offender Registration Requirement?
According to the sex offender rules and regulations in Washington state, if you are convicted of a sex or kidnapping crime, you will be legally required to add your name to the sex offender registry. For Tier II and Tier III offenders, your name and information will be published on the registry for anyone to see. Tier I offenders, who committed a nonviolent crime and are deemed unlikely to reoffend, have a greater level of privacy.
There’s no denying how embarrassing and inconvenient it is to have your name on this registry. It can cost you job opportunities, friendships, and more. Nevertheless, registration is something that you have to do because failure to register as a sex offender carries severe consequences.
If you have already failed to register or think you might have failed to register but aren’t sure, you definitely need a lawyer. At Findley & Rogers, our experienced attorneys can help. If not, we’ll refer you to another attorney who can.
Failure to Register as a Sex Offender Is a Crime
The most critical point to understand is that, under our state’s sex offender rules and regulations, Washington residents and visitors who are required to register as a sex offender must comply with this requirement. In fact, the failure to register as a sex offender is itself a crime according to Washington state’s sex offender laws.
If your original sex or kidnapping offense was a misdemeanor, then the failure to register as a sex offender is a gross misdemeanor. If your original offense was a felony, then failing to register is also a felony—in this case, a Class C felony. In either case, you could be sentenced to jail time as a result of the failure to register.
If you fail to register a second time, Washington’s sex offender rules and regulations consider it a Class B felony—regardless of whatever the original offense was. In this case, you are looking at the possibility of several years behind bars.
Continuing Sex Offender Registration Requirements
Under Washington’s sex offender rules and regulations, registering as a sex offender isn’t a one-time thing. You must update your registration whenever you change your address, employment status, or school enrollment status. If you become homeless (i.e., with no fixed address), you must report this as well.
In addition, you must renew your registration periodically. This can be as often as every three months for violent sex offenders, to as little as once a year for the least serious crimes.
Failure to register as a sex offender in any of these situations is a crime as described above. So, even though it’s a lot of hassle, make sure you keep up with these requirements. When in doubt, ask an attorney.
Here are some additional sex offender rules and regulations in Washington:
Where & When to Register
The correct place to register is at the county sheriff’s office. You have to do this in person. It’s best to call ahead and get an exact address and business hours so that you don’t waste a trip. When it comes to knowing what to expect, don’t count on the authorities to help you through the process. While they are sometimes helpful, this isn’t always the case. It’s better to speak with your attorney to get ready for your registration visit.
If you live in a different county from where you work or study, you need to register in both counties. Failure to register as a sex offender in both places can potentially land you in just as much trouble as though you hadn’t registered at all.
Most sex offender registration requirements in Washington have a time limit of three business days. In other words, if you change your address, get or lose a job, visit the state, etc., you must notify your county sheriff’s office within three days. Your initial registration time period, after being released from jail, is also three business days.
Traveling Out of State
Before leaving Washington you must register with any county sheriffs with whom you typically update your registration. Depending on the circumstances, you may be required to give significant advance notice. In emergencies, you may be able to give notice after the fact. Our attorneys can help clarify the specific requirements in your situation.
You may also have to register with the state you will be visiting. For international travel, there are additional rules and requirements. Be sure to speak with your attorney before you travel out of state for the first time. Many sex offenders travel without knowing the rules, and their failure to register as a sex offender properly ends up costing them severely.
Nonresidents Visiting Washington State
If you’re a sex offender who isn’t a Washington State resident but you plan to stay in Washington for 10 days or longer, you must register with at the sheriff’s office of the county where you will be staying. This includes out-of-state college students and temporary workers!
If you’ll be working or attending school in a different Washington county from where you’re staying, you’ll need to register in both counties.
This is in addition to any registration requirements with the authorities in your home state. Failure to register as a sex offender for interstate travel could get you in trouble in both states, potentially leading to multiple convictions for the same failure to register.
Once You Register, You Can Begin to Move Beyond It
The failure to register as a sex offender isn’t only a crime: It also sets you back on your own road to getting over the past and moving on with your life. In most cases, the registration requirement isn’t permanent. If you take the right steps, you can end your requirement and get your name removed from the registry.
At Findley & Rogers, we can help you through this process from start to finish, including:
- Clearing Your Criminal Record
- Sealing your Adult Criminal Record (or your Juvenile Criminal Record)
- Expunging Your Sex Offender Registration Requirement
With our experienced legal team, you don’t have to navigate the complicated legal system on your own. We are highly knowledgeable in Washington’s sex offender rules and regulations, so you can always be confident that your legal paperwork is correct and complete.
Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your situation. Whether you have previously failed to register as a sex offender or not, our team of attorneys is here to help you!