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Washington Sex Offender Laws

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Under Washington law, anyone who receives a sex crime conviction must register as a sex offender in the state’s registry. This registration requirement applies to both adults and juveniles with sex crime convictions. Registering as a sex offender can be a daunting task, but it is important to comply with these laws to avoid additional consequences.

Washington’s Sex Offender Levels

Washington assigns risk level classifications to different sex offenders, based on an evaluation by the Washington State Department of Corrections Community Protection Unit. After an offender leaves custody, the Community Protection Unit will use a complex scoring system to determine his or her risk to the public.

  • Level I offenders have a very low risk to their communities and do not exhibit predatory behaviors. These individuals may be first-time offenders and have completed or are in the process of completing a treatment program.
  • Level II offenders present a moderate risk to their communities. The Community Protection Unit assigns this classification based on the nature of the crime, previous criminal activity, and the presence of lifestyle factors, such as drug use. These offenders may have failed or refused to complete treatment programs.
  • Level III offenders present a high risk to a community, and may have many prior criminal convictions. The Community Protection Unit assigns this classification when predatory characteristics are present, as well as certain lifestyle factors and a prior criminal history. Many of these offenders fail or refuse treatment programs.

What Information Does the Police Share About Sex Offenders?

Law enforcement officers use the sex offender level classifications to determine how much information to share about each individual publicly. The information of most registered Washington sex offenders is not publicly available online.

  • Level I offenders have a low likelihood of committing another sex crime, and law enforcement does not display their information on the public registry. Local police may share these offenders’ information with other agencies and individuals who request their information, as well as their victims, witnesses, and community members who may come into contact with them.
  • Level II offenders have a moderate likelihood of reoffending. Law enforcement agencies may share their information with public and private schools, day cares, and other businesses or organizations serving children, women, and vulnerable adults. In addition, police may also share information with neighbors and community members who may come into contact with the offender.
  • Level III offenders have a high likelihood of reoffending. As a result, local police may disclose these offenders’ information to the public.

Law enforcement considers sex offenders non-compliant if they fail to adhere to the registration requirements. Police officers publish the information of non-compliant Level I sex offenders, Level II offenders, and Level III offenders on the state’s public sex offender registry website.

Travel and Residential Restrictions for Sex Offenders

In addition to the registration requirements, sex offenders may also face restrictions on where they can live and travel. Corrections officers in the community must approve where a sex offender lives, and a sex offender cannot move without permission. Offenders will also need to clear any travel arrangements with a community custody officer or county sheriff.

If the sex offender is under supervision by the Department of Corrections or the Department of Social and Health Services, the state may place additional limitations on where they can live. In addition, local ordinances may also have restrictions on housing for sex offenders.

A sex crime conviction can impose significant limitations on your life — from where you live to your future romantic relationships. If you are facing charges for a sex offense, contact a Tacoma sex crimes lawyer to learn more about the potential consequences and your best legal options.

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