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Can I be relieved of my duty to register as a sex offender in Washington?

You must meet two (2) requirements to be relieved of your obligation as a sex offender under Washington law. 

First, you must be eligible for removal under state law.  Second—and more importantly—you must ask the local county sheriff or a superior court judge to end your duty to register.

To be relieved from registering, you must prove to the court that you have been sufficiently rehabilitated.  In other words, you have to convince a judge that you are no longer a danger to the community.

What factors will the court consider?

The Court should consider 13 discretionary factors in deciding whether to end your duty to register.  By “discretionary,” this means the Court may consider all of them, some of them, or (in theory) none of them. 

But in our experience, a judge is going to consider most if not all of them in every case.  These factors are found in RCW 9A.144.142(b):

  • The nature of the sex offense, which includes the number of victims and the length of the offense history
  • Any subsequent criminal history
  • Your compliance with probation and other supervision requirements
  • The length of time that has passed since the incidents occurred
  • Any input from community corrections officers, law enforcement, or treatment providers
  • Your participation in sex offender treatment
  • Your participation in any other treatment and rehabilitative programs (i.e. drug treatment)
  • Your employment and housing stability
  • Your personal support system and your support system in the community
  • Any updated professional risk assessment or evaluation
  • The results of an updated polygraph examination
  • Any input from the victim of the crime
  • Any other factors the Court deems relevant

What is the standard of proof?

Your burden of proof (i.e. how much evidence you need) depends on whether you were convicted as an adult or a juvenile

For adult convictions, you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that you no longer pose a danger to the community.  For juvenile convictions, you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you have been rehabilitated. 

Exceptions - Registration Forever

In two (2) specific cases, you can never be relieved of your duty to register as a sex offender, regardless of how much time has passed or how many crime-free years you've spent in the community.

Sexually Violent Predator

If you have been found to be a sexually violent predator under RCW 71.09, you have to register as a sex offender forever.  You can never petition for relief in the superior court.

A sexually violent predator means any person who has been convicted of or charged with a crime of sexual violence and suffers from a mental abnormality or personality order that makes the person “likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility.” 

Note: you can be considered a sexually violent predator even if you have not been convicted of a sex offense.  Simply being charged with a sex crime is enough. 

You cannot be confined as a sexually violent predator unless a judge or jury after a full trial has found you to be one beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Adult Class A Felonies – After June 8, 2000

You have to register forever if you have been convicted as an adult of one of the following crimes and offense occurred on or after June 8, 20000:

  • Rape in the First Degree
  • Rape in the Second Degree
  • Indecent Liberties with Forcible Compulsion

Example #1: A Snohomish County jury convicted you of Rape in the Second degree in September 2000, but the offense occurred on June 6, 2000.  Can you eventually petition to remove your duty to registration?

Yes.  Because the date of the offense was before June 8, 2000, you are eligible to petition the court after 10 years … assuming you did not commit any disqualifying offenses within this 10-year period.

Example #2:  You pleaded guilty to rape in the first degree when you were 17 years old.  The offense took place on June 10, 2000.  Can you file a petition in the future?

Yes.  Although your crime occurred after June 8, 2000, you were a juvenile when you committed the crime.  Therefore, may file a removal petition after you have spent five (5) crime-free years in the community. 

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