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How long do you have to register as a sex offender in Washington

At a minimum, you have to register as a sex offender for at least 10 to 15 years regardless of your crime, but in many cases, you have to register forever. 

A. Registration - Indefinitely

Under Washington law, you have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life unless the Court relieves you of your duty to register in the following three (3) cases.

1. Class A Sex Offense

You have to register indefinitely if you have been convicted of a Class A felony sex offense.

Here are the most commonly charged Class A sex felonies in Washington:

  • Rape in the First Degree
  • Rape in the Second Degree
  • Rape of a Child in the First Degree
  • Rape of a Child in the Second Degree
  • Child Molestation in the First Degree
  • Indecent Liberties by Forcible Compulsion
  • Promoting Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor

Class A felonies carry a maximum possible penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

2. Two or More Sex Crimes

You also have to register indefinitely if you have two (2) or more convictions for sex or kidnapping offenses, even if they are lower level felonies.  

Note, however, that the crime of failing to register as a sex offender does not constitute a sex offense.

Example #1You pleaded guilty to child molestation in the third degree (a Class C felony) in King County Superior Court.  Five years later, a jury in Lincoln County finds you guilty of indecent liberties (a Class B felony).  You now face a lifetime registration requirement unless relieved.

Note, however, that the crime of failing to register as a sex offender does not constitute a sex offense.

Example #2:  You just pleaded guilty for failing to register as a sex offender in Snohomish County.  You are required to register because you have a previous conviction for rape of a child in the third degree (a class C felony).

You do not have to register indefinitely because you still only have one sex offense on your record (the rape conviction).  

3. Non-Washington Sex Crime

If you committed a sex crime outside Washington or your were convicted in federal or military court, you have to register indefinitely, regardless of the type of sex felony. 

ExampleYou pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a child in military court while you were serving on active duty in the military and you were stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  (Let's assume that the military crime is equivalent to a class B felony under Washington state law).  You have to register indefinitely because you committed a crime under federal law.  

B. Registration - 15 Years

You duty to register as a sex offender ends automatically after 15 years if you have been convicted of a Class B sex offense in Washington.

Class B Sex Offenses

Here are the most commonly charged Class B sex felonies in Washington:  

  • Child Molestation in the Second Degree
  • Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
  • Indecent Liberties
  • Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor
  • Possession of Depictions of Minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct in the Second Degree

A Class B felony carries a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in state prison and maximum fine of $20,000.

Note: You can petition the Court to remove your duty to register in as few as 10 years assuming you meet certain requirements

C. Registration - 10 Years

You duty to register as a sex offender ends after 10 years if you have been convicted of a Class C sex offense or a gross misdemeanor sex offense in Washington.

Class C Sex Offenses

Here are the most commonly charged Class C sex felonies in Washington:  

  • Rape in the Third Degree
  • Rape of a Child in the Third Degree
  • Child molestation in the third degree
  • Viewing Depictions of Minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct in the Second Degree
  • Communication with a Minor for immoral purposes if the person has a previous conviction 
  • Promoting travel for commercial sexual abuse of a minor
  • Custodial sexual misconduct in the first degree
  • Voyeurism in the first degree
  • Sexually violating human remains 
  • Sexual misconduct in the first degree
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor in the first degree

Class C felonies carry a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in state prison a maximum fine of $20,000.  

Gross Misdemeanor Sex Offenses

Here are the most commonly charged Class C sex felonies in Washington:  

  • Custodial sexual misconduct in the second degree
  • Sexual misconduct in the second degree
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor in the second degree

A gross misdemeanor carries a maximum possible penalty of 364 days in county jail and a maximum possible fine of $5,000.  

D. Registration - Lifetime / Forever

In some cases, you are required to register as a sex offender forever and you have no possibility of getting off the registry.  There are zero exceptions.  

1. 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 jury in Snohomish County found you guilty of Rape in the Second Degree in September 2001, but the date of the crime 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 removal 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. 

2. 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. 

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