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Sex Offender FAQ's

 

Classifications of crimes and penalties.
Washington State RCW

Sex offender registration procedures and penalties.
Washington State RCW

Who must register for how long.
Washington State RCW

Frequently Asked Questions about Sex Offenders

  • What is the Sex Offender Registration Law?
  • What is a Sex Offender?
  • When referring to Level I, Level II or Level III sex offender, what do the levels mean?
  • Who must register as a sex offender?
  • How long must an offender continue to register?
  • Why can't we control where registered sex offenders live?
  • Who decides where a Sex Offender may live?
  • Who monitors registered sex offenders in Yakima County?
  • What is a Risk Level?
  • Under what authority is sex offender information released to the public?
  • What guidelines are used to determine the extent of public disclosure?
  • What steps should I take to protect my family?
  • What can I do, as a concerned citizen?
  • Why are there unleveled registered sex offenders?
  • What is the Sex Offender Registration Law?

    The term Sex Offender Registration Law actually refers to the Community Protection Act of 1990 which  basically outlines the requirement of any adult or juvenile who has been convicted of any of the sex offenses listed below after February 28, 1990, or was still on active supervision for such an offense at that time, or who has been committed as a sexually violent predator to register their address with law enforcement.  Pursuant to RCW 4.24.550 and the Washington State supreme Court decision in State v. Ward, law enforcement agencies are authorized to inform the public of a sex offenders release when; in the discretion of the agency, the release of information will enhance public safety and protection.  

    The crimes which require registration are as follows and can be found under RCW. 9A.44, 9A.64.020, 9.68A, 9.94A.127 & 13.40.135.

    Rape
    Rape of a Child
    Incest
    Communicate w/Minor for Immoral Purposes 
    Custodial Sexual Misconduct w/ Minor
    Indecent Liberties
    Any Federal or Out-of-State conviction that under Wa State Law would be classified as a sex offense
    Child Molestation
    Sexual Misconduct w/a Minor
    Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
    Patronize Juvenile Prostitue
    Any Felony  w/finding of Sexual Motivation 
    Sexually Violate Human Remains
    Dealing in Depictions of a Minor
    Voyeurism

    The duration of an offender's duty to register is based upon the original offense:  See RCW 9A.44.140

    Class A Felony - May stop registering only upon the petition of the superior court.

    Class B Felony - fifteen years from the last date of release from confinement or entry of the judgment and sentence, if the person has spent fifteen consecutive years in the community without being convicted of any new offenses.

    Class C Felony - Ten years from the last date of release from confinement of entry of the judgment and sentence, if the person has spent ten consecutive years in the community without being convicted of any new offenses.

    Petition of Court - Any person having the duty to register, or an offender having the duty to register for a sex offense when the offender was a juvenile, may petition the superior court to be relieved of that duty.

    Citizen abuse of this information to threaten, intimidate or harass registered sex offenders will not be tolerated and could potentially end law enforcement's ability to do community notifications.  We believe the only person who wins if community notification ends is the sex offender, since sex offenders derive their power through secrecy

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    What is a Sex Offender?

    The term "sex offender" refers to any person convicted of Rape, Rape of Child, Child Molestation, Sexual Misconduct with a Minor, Sexual Violation of Human Remains, Incest, Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes, a Felony with a finding of sexual motivation, or a Federal out-of-state conviction that, under Washington State law, would be classified as a felony sex offense.

    See RCW# 9A.44, 9A.64.020, 9.68A.090, 9.94A.127, and 13.40.135 .

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    When referring to Level I, Level II or Level III sex offender, what do the levels mean?

    One of three Risk levels is assigned to a Sex Offender based on the potential risk to re-offend. Past criminal history, conviction data and psychological behavioral evaluations are considered:

    Level I - Is considered a Low Risk to re-offend.

    Level II - Is considered a Moderate Risk to re-offend.

    Level III - is considered a High Risk to re-offend.

    These Risk Levels are the guidelines used to determine the extent of public disclosure as follows:

    Level I - Information about Level I offenders shall be shared with other law enforcement agencies and, upon request, the Department may disclose relevant, necessary and accurate information to any victim or witness to the offense and to any individual community member who lives near the residence where the offender resides, expects to reside, or is regularly found. Level I offenders MAY NOT be the subject of general public Notification.

    Level II - Relevant, necessary and accurate information concerning Level II offenders may be disclosed to public and private schools, child day care centers, family day care providers, businesses and organizations that serve primarily children, women or vulnerable adults, and neighbors and community groups near the residence where the offender resides, expects to reside, or is regularly found. Level II offenders MAY NOT be the subject of general public Notification.

    Level III - Relevant, accurate and necessary information concerning Level III offenders MAY BE disclosed to the public at large.

    The only deviations from these guidelines refer to transient or homeless offenders.  The statute gives broader  release guidelines if an offender has no permanent address. 

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    Who must register as a sex offender? 

    Any adult or juvenile who has been convicted of any sex offense (listed above) after February 28th, 1990, or who is on active supervision for a sex offense; or who has been committed as a sexually violent predator.

    See RCW# 9A.44.130 .

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    How long must an offender continue to register?
    The duration of an offender's duty to register is based upon the original offense:
    Class A Felony - May stop registering only upon the petition of the superior court.
    Class B Felony - fifteen years from the last date of release from confinement or entry of the judgment and sentence, if the person has spent fifteen consecutive years in the community without being convicted of any new offenses.
    Class C Felony - Ten years from the last date of release from confinement of entry of the judgment and sentence, if the person has spent ten consecutive years in the community without being convicted of any new offenses.
    Petition of Court - Any person having the duty to register, or an offender having the duty to register for a sex offense when the offender was a juvenile, may petition the superior court to be relieved of that duty.
    See RCW# 9A.44.140

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    Why can't we control where registered sex offenders live?

    The Law does not direct where sex offenders may or may not live.  No Police nor Sheriff's agency has the legal authority to do so.  Unless court ordered restrictions exist, the offender is constitutionally free to live wherever he or she chooses.  In some circumstances Washington State Department of Corrections will assist sex offenders with residential accommodations.  These arrangements are handled solely by Washington State DOC and is not influenced by any Law Enforcement Agency.

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    Who decides where a Sex Offender may live?

    The Yakima County Sheriff's Office has no legal authority to direct where sex offenders may or may not live. Unless court ordered restrictions exist, the offender is constitutionally free to live wherever he or she chooses.
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    Who monitors registered sex offenders in Yakima County?

    All sex offenders in Yakima County register their address with the Yakima County Sheriff's Office.  That information is then forwarded by the Sheriff's Office to the agency with law enforcement jurisdiction over the sex offender's registered address.  The day to day monitoring of the sex offender's registered address is handled by the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the address.  Thus, Yakima County Sheriff's Office monitors those sex offenders with registered addresses in the unincorporated portions of Yakima County or in the incorporated areas with no law enforcement of their own. The Sheriff's Office also has the responsibility of monitoring those offenders with no permanent address.   The sex offenders with addresses in incorporated areas of Yakima County  in which there are Police agencies are monitored by those respective Police agencies.

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    What is a Risk Level?

    One of three Risk levels is assigned to a Sex Offender based on the potential risk to reoffend. Past criminal history, conviction data and psychological behavioral evaluations are considered:

    Level I - Is considered a Low Risk to reoffend.

    Level II - Is considered a Moderate Risk to reoffend.

    Level III - is considered a High Risk to reoffend.

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    Under what authority is sex offender information released to the public?

    This Department releases sex offender information pursuant to R.C.W. 4.24.550 which authorizes law enforcement to: release information to the public regarding sex offenders when the agency determines that disclosure of information is relevant and necessary to protect the public and to counteract the danger created by the particular offender. The content of the information made available, as well as where and how the information is disseminated, is restricted to the standards set forth in Chapter 4.24 and by the Washington State Supreme Court ruling in State v. Ward, 123 Wa 2d 488 (1994).
    This notification is not intended to increase fear; rather it is our belief that an informed public is a safer public.

    See RCW# 4.24.550

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    What guidelines are used to determine the extent of public disclosure?

    Level I - Information about Level 1 offenders shall be shared with other law enforcement agencies and, upon request, the Department may disclose relevant, necessary and accurate information to any victim or witness to the offense and to any individual community member who lives near the residence where the offender resides, expects to reside, or is regularly found. Level I offenders MAY NOT be the subject of general public Notification.

    Level II - Relevant, necessary and accurate information concerning Level II offenders may be disclosed to public and private schools, child day care centers, family day care providers, businesses and organizations that serve primarily children, women or vulnerable adults, and neighbors and community groups near the residence where the offender resides, expects to reside, or is regularly found. Level II offenders MAY NOT be the subject of general public Notification.

    Level III - Relevant, accurate and necessary information concerning Level III offenders MAY BE disclosed to the public at large.

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    What steps should I take to protect my family?

    Persons who have served time in jail or prison including Sex Offenders, even those who haven't satisfied their obligations to register, have always been with us. The best way to cut risk is to take sensible precautions concerning where, when and what you are doing. Know what your family members are doing and where they are. Know your neighbors. Know your neighborhood. Additional personal safety questions can be answered by the Sheriff's Office at (509) 574-2625.
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    What can I do, as a concerned citizen?

    Contact your Legislators.  They make the laws and are responsible to you and your concerns. 

    Be aware of your surroundings.  Talk to your families regarding not only sex offenders, but every aspect of life that could be a danger to them.

    Be nosey regarding your children and their friends.  Know what they do, who they do it with and where they do it. 

    Sex offenders have always been in our communities.  Today, we are aware of where the convicted  offenders are living. 

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    Why are there unleveled registered sex offenders?

    In 1997, Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) began calculating the risk level of sex offenders releasing from state incarceration who would have a registration requirement. Until recently, there were few agencies on the local level with practices in place to level offenders who were never incarcerated in a state facility or had been released prior to the implementation of leveling by State DOC. Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, along with the local police departments of Yakima County began a concerted effort to level these unleveled offenders in 2001. With the advent of the WASPC web site for Level 2 and Level 3 offenders, the Washington State Patrol (in charge of registrations for the State), began a real push to get all of the Counties in the State to bring the backlog of unleveled sex offenders up to date and level new unleveled offenders as soon as possible. It is not an easy task and few agencies have extra manpower to lend to the process, but there is steady progress toward 100% of offenders having an assigned risk level.

    The Yakima County Sheriff's Office is an Accredited Agency certified by the State of Washington and has dedicated itself to C.O.P.S. (Community Oriented Policing Services).

    If you have questions regarding these pages contact the
    Yakima County Sheriff