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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 - Lifetime

Under Washington law, you have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life in one of the following four (4) cases: 

1. Class A Sex Offense

You have to register indefinitely if you have been convicted of a sex offense that also qualifies as a Class A felony.   A Class A felony carries a maximum possible penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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
  • Indecent Liberties by forcible compulsion
  • Promoting Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor

2. Prior Sex Offense

Your duty to register also lasts forever if you have two (2) or more convictions for sex or kidnapping offenses on your record, even if they are lower level felonies.

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.

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

Example #2:  You pleaded guilty to rape of a child in the third degree in Skagit County Superior Court.  The next year, you move to Everett but you forget to register with the local Snohomish County Sheriff's office.  You are charged (and later plead guilty) to failing to register as a sex offender.

Do you have to register forever now?  No.  You still only have one sex offense on your record (not two) because failure to register does not count.  

3. Non-Washington Sex Crime

You duty to register also lasts forever if you have been required to register as a sex offender for a federal, tribal, or out-of-state conviction unless you successfully petition the court to relieve you of your duty.  

ExampleYou 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.

4. Sexually Violent Predator

Your face a lifetime duty to register as a sex offender if a court has found you to be a sexually violent predator under RCW 71.09.   

B. Registration - 15 Years

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

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

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

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.

A Class C felony carries a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in state prison and maximum fine of $20,000.  A gross misdemeanor carries a maximum possibility of 364 days in the county jail and a $5,000 fine.  

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

  • 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

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