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Offenses That Qualify People as Sexually Violent Predators

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Sex offenses like rape, child molestation, and sexual assault are some of the most serious crimes in the state of Washington. The state treats these crimes very seriously, imposing penalties like fines and jail time on people who are convicted. 

Penalties for sex offenses do not end when a prison sentence is over, however. Many people are required to register as sex offenders for years following their release or conviction. Additionally, certain offenders are designated as sexually violent predators and are required to be held at a Special Commitment Center (SCC) for an indefinite period.

Washington Sex Offender Laws and Levels

A sex offender is any person who has been convicted of a sex crime such as sexual misconduct, rape, and child molestation. If a person is convicted of a sex offense, he or she is required to register as a sex offender for a certain time.

Washington state classifies sexual predators into three levels based on their risk to the community and likelihood to re-offend.

  • Level 1: Level 1 sex offenders have the lowest possible risk of reoffending or harming someone again. They do not have predatory characteristics that would otherwise make them dangerous.
  • Level 2: These offenders pose a moderate risk to the community and are more likely to re-offend than those in the level 1 classification. 
  • Level 3: These sex offenders pose the highest risk to the community and are likely to commit a sex crime again. Many level 3 offenders have a history of prior criminal convictions. These individuals are likely to seek out victims and exhibit predatory characteristics.

Who Is a Sexually Violent Predator in Washington State?

In Washington, people who are classified as level 3 sex offenders undergo an evaluation at the end of their prison sentences. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether the offender is a sexually violent predator and should be confined to the SCC. If committed, the offender would need to stay indefinitely at the SCC until his or her condition improves, and the state determines that he or she can re-enter society.

The law defines a sexually violent predator as an offender who meets the following characteristics:

  • The person has been convicted of or charged with a crime of sexual violence.
  • The person has a personality disorder or a mental abnormality.
  • The offender’s personality disorder or mental abnormality makes him or her more likely to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence unless he or she is confined.

What Happens at the SCC for Sexually Violent Predators?

There are two SCC programs for sexually violent predators in Washington: one on McNeil Island and one in South Seattle. During the program, the offender will undergo rigorous treatment to help treat his or her condition and gain the skills necessary to re-enter society.

Each year, a person held at the SCC has the right to undergo an annual review hearing. If the state determines that the offender’s condition has improved, he or she may leave the SCC and obtain a conditional release to a less restrictive alternative (LRA) community placement.

If you are facing a conviction or being held at an SCC, you need an attorney on your side who can protect your best interests. As soon as possible after your arrest, contact a Washington sex crime defense attorney to discuss your case.

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