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How to Petition to Get Off The Sex Offender Registry in Washington State

A sex offender conviction is a life-changing event. It usually carries heavy penalties including jail time, fines, and a mandatory registration that can follow you for life. Even after you’ve served your sentence and made amends for your sentence, it can be difficult to have your sex offender registration removed in Washington state.

After a sex offender conviction, it is mandated by Washington state sex offender laws that you are entered into the state’s offender database. Additionally, your criminal history and sex offender status will show up whenever anybody runs a background check on you, which can make it extremely hard to:

  • Rent a place to live
  • Get a good job or a promotion
  • Qualify for a mortgage or line of credit
  • Enroll in a college to continue your education

Without a strong personal support system, many convicted sex offenders live on the margins of society, untrusted and unwelcome by their communities, and unable to get ahead economically.

However, for many types of sex offense convictions, this punishment doesn’t have to be permanent. In many situations, Washington state law allows you to petition to get off the sex offender registry.

Available in Most Washington State Sex Offender Registration Removal Cases

When it comes to how to get off the Washington state sex offender registry, oftentimes you can be automatically removed after a specific amount of time, provided that you commit no new offenses. In other cases, you may need to petition the court to be removed or go through the process of completely vacating your criminal record in Washington state.

Please note, however, that this article is intended for people who have had a past sexual offense conviction and have already served their time. If you are currently facing sex offense charges, or have recently been convicted of a sex offense and want to pursue an appeal, you will need the services of a criminal defense attorney.

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Ending Your Requirement to Register as a Sex Offender

Petitioning to get off the sex offender registry is the most widely available solution to sex offenders in Washington. Getting off the sex offender list won’t clear your criminal record (we’ll talk more about that possibility later in this article), but it’s still a major step forward.

It’s also a removal of a legal liability. According to sex offender rules and regulations in Washington, when you’re required to be on the sex offender list, you must check in with the authorities regularly, and provide updates whenever your personal situation changes (such as your place of residence). Failure to do so is a crime.

The sex offender registry does not exist to punish sex offenders; it exists to protect the surrounding community from sex offenders who still pose a threat. If you can prove that you no longer pose a threat to the community, then you have a chance at having your sex offender registration removed in Washington state.

Conditions For Moving Forward With How to Get Off The Sex Offender Registry

To end your requirement to register as a sex offender, you have to meet ALL of the following conditions:

  • You must NOT have been declared a “sexually violent predator” or been convicted of a sex crime involving compulsion (such as rape).
  • You must NOT have any additional “disqualifying offenses” within the last 10 years. Disqualifying offenses include felony convictions, additional sex crime convictions, a domestic violence conviction, or a violent crime conviction.
  • You must complete a waiting period from your sentencing or (if applicable) your date of release from prison. Anyone can petition the court to lift their registration requirement when 10 years have elapsed, though the longer you have waited, the higher your chance of success. For Class C offenses, your requirement actually ends automatically after 10 years, for Class B offenses, the requirement ends automatically after 15 years. A requirement never ends automatically for a Class A offense, you must petition the court to have that requirement lifted.
  • You must complete all payments of your court-ordered fines and restitution.

If you meet these conditions, you can typically petition to get off the sex offender registry. In fact, in many cases, such as for most misdemeanor convictions and most Class B and Class C felony convictions, your requirement to register will end automatically after a period of either 10 or 15 years.

It’s important to note, however, that even if you qualify to have your registration requirement automatically ended, you may still need to contact law enforcement to be removed from the registry. Not all county sheriff’s are checking the sex offender list to see whose registration requirements have automatically ended — you must notify them after your mandatory waiting period that you would like to go forward with having your sex offender registration removed in Washington state.

A man frustrated by how to get off the sex offender registry in Washington holds his head in his hands

How to Get Off The Sex Offender Registry for Registered-for-Life Offenders

Even if you have a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender, you can still petition the court to end your registration requirement. The requirements are the same as they are with misdemeanor or Class C and B offenses, but if you can prove you are not a threat to the community, you can attempt to have your registration cleared.

What Do You Need to Petition the Court Successfully?

If you haven’t qualified to have your registration requirement ended automatically, you will have to make your case to the court. To successfully petition the court, you must show what is called “clear and convincing evidence” that you have put your past mistakes behind you. You must prove that you have become a productive, contributing member of society.

This is a discretionary motion, meaning that the court has the power to say ‘no’ if they believe that is the correct course of action, so it is important to put forward the strongest case possible.

If you have questions about what constitutes “clear and convincing evidence,” please contact us for a free consultation.

How to Get Off The Sex Offender Registry for Juvenile Sex Offense Convictions

If you were convicted of your sex offense as a juvenile, then there may be more lenient laws and better rights available to you.

For instance, in most cases, people with a juvenile sex offense conviction can petition to get off the sex offender registry, have the conviction expunged from their record, and have their criminal juvenile record sealed in Washington. The waiting times for your eligibility to end your registration requirement are also usually shorter.

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Expunging & Sealing Your Record

In most cases, you cannot vacate (“expunge”) a sex offense conviction from your criminal record, and you cannot seal that record in Washinton either. However, there are a few situations where these options may be available (such as the case of a juvenile conviction, like we mentioned above).

Contact Findley & Rogers for a Free Consultation to Learn Your Rights

There’s a lot that’s confusing about Washington state sex offender laws, but you don’t have to deal with it alone.

If you are eligible, the experienced attorneys at Findley & Rogers can help you petition the court to get off the sex offender registry. Our experienced attorneys can also help you understand the law and your legal options for putting the past behind you. With us, you won’t have to worry whether you’re doing the legal paperwork correctly, and you’ll be confident that you’re taking full advantage of the rights available to you.

Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your situation.