The Virginia Sexual Offender Registry Explained

The Sex Offender Registry Explained

In theory, the Sex Offender and Crimes against Minors Registry (hereinafter referred to as "Registry" or "SOR") "is to assist the efforts of law-enforcement agencies and others to protect their communities and families from repeat sex offenders and to protect children from becoming victims of criminal offenders by helping to prevent such individuals from being allowed to work directly with children."[1] Unfortunately, despite the lofty stated goals, the laws have turned into a difficult, and sometimes cruel quagmire – becoming more punitive each year, each successive law drafted with more and more penalties and conditions unrelated to most registration offenses. In turn, these laws are progressively more difficult for practitioners to navigate, with clients paying the price for the statutes' lack of clarity. These civil statutes, related to the Sexual Offender Registry, are found in Title 9.1, Chapter 9, of the Code of Virginia.

Because registration is required after a conviction of certain crimes in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is important to understand each section in Title 9.1. While the defense lawyer will rarely take on a case where the crux lies in the earlier sections of this title, they often play large roles in cases regarding removal from the SOR, reduction in the frequency of SOR registration, and access onto certain properties such as schools, fairgrounds, and public parks. For these reasons, this chapter will discuss each section in order, with greater length and discussion on the sections that defense counsel most often encounter.

[1] VA Code Ann. §9.1-900

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