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Virginia’s Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry is part of a national effort to keep track of individuals who have been convicted of committing a major crime against a child. It is a consequence of many Virginia sex crimes. For more information on sex crimes in Virginia, please click here.
According to Chapter 9 of Title 9.1 of the Code of Virginia, the registry is based on the Virginia General Assembly’s decision to make information about individuals convicted of violent and sexual offenses more accessible to the public, and not just to warn communities about any specific sex offender.
Adults, and juveniles who were tried and convicted as adults, must register if they were found guilty of committing such crimes against a minor as rape, murder, sexual abuse, and distributing child pornography. Title 9.1 has the complete list of all crimes that require a person to register. Statistics from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children show 19,395 people on Virginia’s registry as of December 2012.
The national sex offender registry was a result of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law in 2006. Adam Walsh was abducted from a Florida shopping mall and murdered in 1981; his murderer was not apprehended until 27 years later. During that time, Adam Walsh’s father, John Walsh, became a vocal advocate for missing and exploited children. John Walsh also hosted “America’s Most Wanted” a popular television program featuring crimes committed by fugitives of justice. Many criminals were captured and brought to trial based on the show.
Since the registry began, individuals required to register have complained of being harassed by their neighbors. It has also been reported in the media that residents who occupied the former home of a registered person have been targeted by neighbors who, looking at an outdated registry, did not realize that the registered person moved away. Despite these and other problems, the sex offender registry has remained.
Virginia lawmakers enacted the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act in 2003. Under this act, anyone convicted on or after July 1, 1994, of crimes listed in the Act is required to register with the Virginia State Police, which maintains the registry. Upon release from prison, the individuals must also register with a law enforcement agency in the city or county in which they live.
The individuals must go to the police department or sheriff’s office in person and present a proof of residency, two photographs and fingerprints. The local agency then forwards this information to the State Police. Individuals who move have three days to visit a state police office near them to register their new address.
After registration in the Virginia sex offender registry, the law requires state police to send this information to school districts, day care businesses, children’s residential facilities or foster homes that asked to be notified when a registered person moves into their community.
Virginia’s statute also requires state police troopers to show up on the registered person’s doorstep unannounced every six months. By visiting their home, the troopers are making sure the registered person is following the registry requirements. If the registered person is not home and someone else answers the door, troopers will leave their business cards and ask for the person to call them immediately.
The troopers can choose to visit the registered person’s job, but they have to be in full uniform and arrive in their patrol car for everyone to see. Any registered person who ignores the troopers’ request and does not immediately get in contact with them will face serious consequences for violating this provision of the statute.
After 15 years, registered people who have not been convicted of a sexually violent offense, murder, or more than two offenses for which registration is required, can ask to have their names removed from the registry. Doing this requires filing a petition in the court in which they were convicted. A judge will hold a hearing on the request and, if the judge is satisfied that the registered person is not a public risk, his or her name will be removed from the list.
Any registered person wanting to petition the court for removal should first seek legal advice from a Virginia criminal attorney before filing a petition with the court. Call a Virginia sex crimes attorney today at (703) 278-2800 for a free consultation.
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