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Offenses That Qualify as a Sexually Violent Predator

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Washington imposes some of the strictest sex offender registration and notification laws in the country. After a person serves a prison sentence for a sex crime, he or she will likely need to register as a sex offender for a certain period of time. These laws intend to protect the community at large and prevent future sex crimes from occurring. 

In some situations, a judge may classify an offender as a sexually violent predator and recommend him or her for indefinite commitment to a secure facility. If you are facing this type of classification, it is important to speak to a sex crimes defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Who Is a Sexually Violent Predator in Washington?

Washington classifies sex offenders based on the severity of their charges, the presence of aggravating factors, and their risk to the community at large. A Level I offender is not very likely to reoffend, whereas a Level III are a high risk to reoffend when released.

Before a Level III sex offender is released from prison, a judge will conduct a review to determine whether he or she is a sexually violent predator. According to Washington law, a sexually violent predator is any person who meets the following criteria.

  • The person has been convicted of or charged with a sexual violence offense.
  • The person suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder. 
  • The mental abnormality or personality disorder makes the person likely to engage in sexually violent, predatory acts. As a result, he or she is must be confined in a secure facility.

If the judge’s assessment finds that a person is a sexually violent predator, he or she will be committed to the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center (SCC). The offender will be held at the SCC indefinitely until his or her mental condition improves. At this point, he or she will be released back into the community.

Changes to Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator Laws

Senate Bill 5163, a piece of legislation signed into law in May 2021, is changing how Washington releases sexually violent predators back into the community. Under this law, the state must consider additional provisions before a release, including the following. 

  • The state must ensure that every county has adequate housing options for sexually violent predators, preventing one area from housing a disproportionate number of offenders.
  • The state must help develop an ongoing, clinically appropriate discharge plan in order to properly treat the offender.
  • The state must consider the offender’s health, special needs, life skills capabilities, and other needs prior to recommending a release.
  • The state must provide a certain sum of money to help the offender purchase suitable clothing after his or her release.

Speak to a Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer

A sex crime conviction carries severe penalties and can have a significant impact on your life. If you are facing charges for a sex offense in Washington state, it is important to consult with a defense attorney as soon as possible. 

A Washington criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate your case and fight aggressively for your best possible outcome. As soon as possible following your arrest, contact an attorney to discuss your case and next steps. 

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