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CLASSIFICATION OF SEX OFFENDERS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What do the sex offender levels mean?

Sex offender levels are determined by taking into account several factors about the offender and the nature of his or her crime in order to determine possible risks to the general public.

Washington state sex offender laws apply to juvenile as well as adult sex offenders. Adult and juvenile offenders are:

  • Subject to civil commitment if judged to be a sexually violent predator
  • Required to register with law enforcement when released to the community
  • Assigned risk level classification for purposes of community notification by law enforcement
  • Juvenile offenders are prohibited from enrolling in the same school as their victim or victim's siblings

Risk
Level 1

Level 1 sex offenders present the lowest risk for re-offense to the community at large.
Some sample characteristics:

  • These individuals normally have not exhibited predatory type characteristics
  • Most have successfully participated or are participating in approved sex offender treatment programs.
  • Many are first time offenders.

You may call law enforcement to ask about a specific individual if you suspect they might be a sex offender, but the law does not mandate community notification.

Risk
Level 2

Level 2 sex offenders generally present a moderate risk to re-offend within community at large.
Some sample characteristics:

  • These individuals may be considered a Level 2 sex offender because of the nature of previous crime(s).
  • For some Level 2 sex offenders, lifestyle (drugs and alcohol use, other criminal activity) may influence their potential to re-offend.
  • These individuals often have; more than one victim and/or took advantage of a position of trust and authority, such as a teacher, coach, clergy, or babysitter.

Risk
Level 3

Level 3 sex offenders pose a high risk to re-offend within the community at large.
Some sample characteristics:

  • Most have prior sex crime convictions as well as other criminal convictions.
  • Some have predatory characteristics and may seek out victims unknown to the offender.
  • These individuals may have used violence in their crime.
  • These individuals may have refused or failed to complete approved sex offender treatment programs.

REGISTRATION AND RESTRICTIONS OF SEX OFFENDERS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a registered sex offender?

Sex offenders are juveniles or adults who have committed a Class A, Class B, Class C felony or some gross misdemeanors are required to register for life, fifteen years, and ten years, respectively.

Do offenders have restrictions on where they can live?

It depends on whether the offender is under supervision by the Department of Corrections/Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration. If offenders are under supervision they have certain limitations or restrictions placed on them by the Department of Corrections or the sentencing court upon their release from incarceration. These may include: residency restrictions, not being around children, having a curfew, or not drinking alcohol or taking drugs. If they are found to be in violation of their restrictions, they may be sent back to jail or to prison. Offenders who have completed their time under supervision can live where they choose without restrictions.

What do I do if I see the offender doing something I think is suspicious?

Call local law enforcement or the sheriff's office and report it. You could also choose to share your concerns with a local school resource officer. It is best to let law enforcement handle the situation rather than taking it into your own hands. If you know an offender's specific restrictions and you witness a violation, call 911 or call the community corrections officer at the Department of Corrections.

How do sex offenders' register? Where do sex offenders' register?

How and when a sex offender registers is covered in the laws:
(RCW. 9A.44.130), (RCW 9A.44.135), and (RCW 9A.44.140). You can refer to the website resource table page for a link to the laws. They can be confusing. If you have a question about a particular offender's requirements, contact your local sheriff.


NOTIFICATION OF SEX OFFENDERS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why did I receive a sex offender notification?

The Community Protection Act of 1990 (RCW 9A.44.130) requires a sex offender to register in the community where they live. Communities are notified when a Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender registers a new address. The law (RCW 9A.44.130) is intended to make the public aware about a particular offender, the offender's conviction(s), and to share resources to help keep communities safe.

Why didn't I receive a sex offender notification?

Not every city or community mails out notification flyers or you may not live in the notification radius for a particular offender. It is up to each law enforcement jurisdiction to determine how they notify the community. Some cities post the information on their websites, while others hand deliver flyers. (RCW 9A.44.130) Call your local police department or sheriff's office for more information.

Will I be notified when the sex offender moves?

No. The law requires communities be notified when sex offenders move into a community, not when they move out.

Why didn't I know about this sooner?

Flyers are mailed out after a person registers as a sex offender, and after the law enforcement jurisdiction in which they register requests, receives, and reviews all original information about the offender's offense. This can take two weeks to several months. Once all the necessary information is reviewed, the law enforcement jurisdiction may or may not change the sex offender's level. This review must be complete and an in-person verification that the offender is in fact residing at his or her registered address, before a community is notified.

Can I copy and distribute the notification?

It is against the law (RCW 9A.44.130) to alter the notification flyer in any way. It is illegal to plaster the community by posting flyers everywhere. If the community believes that notification was not sufficient, community members should contact law enforcement or the sheriff's office to discuss the issue. If you believe other community members should receive a notification flyer, you may copy and distribute it (within reason).

Are there things I cannot do?

Experts believe sex offenders are less likely to re-offend if they live and work in an environment free of harassment. Any actions taken against the individual named in the notification, including vandalism of property, verbal or written threats of harm; or physical violence against this person, his or her family, or employer, will result in arrest and prosecution of criminal acts. It is against the law (RCW 9A.44.130) to use this information in any way to threaten, intimidate, or harass registered offenders.

I'm not happy about this notification!

People respond in many different ways to receiving a sex offender notification. It is normal to feel upset, angry, and worried about a sex offender living in your community. The law (RCW 9A.44.130) was created to inform the public when a Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender moves into the community and to provide that community with education and resources.

Should I attend the community notification meeting?

At the meeting you will have an opportunity to hear different service providers speak about the particular offender moving into your area and about sex offenders in general. Topics may vary, but usually include information and history of sex offender laws and information regarding the particular offender. (Note: Under HIPPA, the privacy of every individual is protected. Information about the offender's treatment, medication, or diagnosis is not releasable by law.) Attending the meeting also provides an opportunity to connect with other members of your community. This can lead to further conversations and future planning of community protection.

Who can I expect to see at the meeting?

Members from local or county law enforcement; members from the Department of Corrections (DOC) and/or Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) if the offender is under supervision; a representative from a community victim advocacy agency; and possibly members of the local school district.

Will the offender be at the meeting?

Offenders are strongly discouraged from attending the community notification meeting. On rare occasions a sex offender may be present, but are not part of the meeting agenda. Sometimes, family members and friends of the offender or victim present.

How can I talk to children about sex offender notification?

Talk with children in a calm way about the individual named on the notification flyer. One suggestion is to tell a child that the sex offender named in the notification flyer may be dangerous and the child needs to stay away from him or her. Most importantly, open communication with children is a parent's number one safety tool. For more information to help you talk with your child about notification of sex offenders, review the additional materials on this site

Where can I learn more about community protection?

Find out what community protection programs your neighborhood has by calling your local police department or sheriff's office. You can become involved in or start a neighborhood Block Watch, Citizens on Patrol, or other neighborhood safety program.

 

 


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