One of the most impactful penalties that result from a conviction for certain sex offenses in Virginia is the statutory requirement to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act. Not all offenses of a sexual nature require such registration, and some non-sexual offenses, such as homicide offenses, do require registration. Any conviction of a statutorily listed offense will trigger that requirement.
Offenses Requiring Registration
Under Virginia Code § 9.1-902, offenses requiring registration include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Any actual violation, attempted violation, or conspiracy to commit any of the following sex offenses:
- Carnal knowledge of a child between age 13 and 15
- Carnal knowledge of certain minors
- Breaking and entering with intent to commit rape, or to commit any other offense listed in this statute
- Any felony violation of the prostitution and commercial exploitation of minor statute
- Taking a minor into a bawdy place for purposes of prostitution
- Commercial sex trafficking of a minor
- Second offense possession of child pornography, or reproduction, distribution, solicitation, or facilitation of child pornography
- Computer solicitation of a minor for sexual purposes
- Third or subsequent conviction for sexual battery, sexual abuse of a child under age 15, attempted sexual battery, or unlawful creation of a nude image of another
- Certain offenses where the victim is a minor or physically helpless or mentally incapacitated
- Penetration of mouth of child with lascivious intent
- Aggravated malicious wounding where the defendant is 18 years or older and the victim is under the age of 13
- Receiving money for procuring a minor for sexual purposes
- Receiving money from earning of prostitution of a minor
2. Criminal homicide
4. Any sexually violent offense
5. Any offenses similar to the offenses listed in subdivisions 1 through 4 of this statute under the laws of any foreign country, the US, or any political subdivision thereof; and
6. Any offense for which registration in a sex offender and crimes against minors registry is required under the laws of the jurisdiction where the offender was convicted.
Impact of Registration Requirement
Sex offender registration can have far-reaching consequences on an individual. It allows law enforcement to continue monitoring the individual’s whereabouts and employment, places registered individuals on publicly-searchable databases, and it limits one’s ability to visit certain places, such as schools, playgrounds, and other locations where children might be. Being a registered sex offender also limits one’s employment prospects severely due to the public nature of the registry, in addition to making it more difficult to find rental housing.
Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Failure to register as a sex offender in Virginia, or providing false information in the registration, is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500, if the offender’s original crime was non-violent. A subsequent conviction for failure to register is a Class 6 felony punishable by a sentence of up to five years in prison. Violent sex offenders or those convicted of violent offenses such as murder who fail to register or provide false information face a Class 6 felony offense, and a second or subsequent offense is a Class 5 felony, which is punishable by a sentence of up to ten years and a fine of $2,500.
Removal from Registry
Depending on the nature of your conviction, you may be eligible after a certain number of years to petition to be removed from the sex offender registry. However, this is not automatic, nor is it a matter of right. Before such a petition can even be considered, the offender must first complete all court-ordered treatment and counseling, pay all restitution owed, and provide evidence that the offender is no longer a public safety threat. Certain offenders are also ineligible for consideration for removal from the registry at all.