It is a crime under Washington law for a person to fail to register as a sex offender when legally required to do so. The offense can result in felony charges and confinement in state prison for up to 10 years. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you or a loved one is facing any criminal charges involving a sex offense.
What are Washington’s Sex Offender Registration Requirements?
Anyone convicted, or found not guilty by reason of insanity, of a “sex offense” must register as a sex offender. Examples of “sex offenses” that may lead to a sex offender registration requirement include:
- Sexual misconduct with a minor,
- Communication with a minor for immoral purposes,
- Promoting prostitution, and
To comply with a duty to register as a sex offender, you must register with the sheriff’s department in your county of residence, employment, or school enrollment. People with out-of-state convictions for comparable offenses must also register when they move to Washington. State law mandates a quick deadline for registering. You typically have to register within three days from the date you:
- Are released from incarceration,
- Move to this state, or
- Are sentenced without incarceration.
What is Washington’s Law on Failing to Register as a Sex Offender?
RCW 9A.44.132 is the Washington statute that sets forth the crime of failing to register as a sex offender. Per this law, you commit an offense if you fail to register as a sex offender on or before your registration deadline. Note that law enforcement views a failure to register as an ongoing offense. This means that you are deemed to have committed the offense of failure to register every day that you fail to register. But also note that the state can only prosecute a person for a single offense.
What are the Penalties?
The penalties for failing to register as a sex offender will vary depending on the facts of your case.
You are generally guilty of a class C felony if you failed to register after being convicted of a felony sex offense. Possible penalties include:
- Confinement in state prison for up to five years, and/or
- A maximum fine of $10,000.
You are generally guilty of a class B felony if you failed to register and have a prior conviction for failing to register as a sex offender. Possible penalties include:
- Confinement in state prison for up to 10 years, and/or
- A maximum fine of $20,000.
You are generally guilty of a gross misdemeanor if you failed to register after being convicted of a non-felony sex offense. Possible penalties include:
- Custody in jail for up to one year, and/or
- A maximum fine of $5,000.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Yes. You have the right to challenge a failure to register charge with a legal defense. A common defense is for an accused to show that he/she did not register because of an emergency. Another effective defense is for a defendant to show that he or she actually did comply with all registration requirements. Note that it is usually not a defense if you assert that you didn’t register because you didn’t realize that you had a duty to register.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a failure to register charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various sex offenses. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!