Q. Does everyone who has ever been convicted of a sex or kidnapping offense have to register in Washington?
No. Only those sex offenders who have committed a sex offense on, before, or after February 28, 1990, and who, on or after July 28, 1991, were in custody for that offense. And only kidnapping offenders who, on or after July 27, 1997, were in custody for that offense. Kidnapping and Unlawful Imprisonment convictions are only registerable if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the minor's parent.

Q. What crimes require a registration?
Rape 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree; Rape of a Child 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree; Child Molestation 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree; Sexual Misconduct with a Minor 1st and 2nd degree; Indecent Liberties; Voyeurism; Failure to Register as a Sex Offender; Incest 1st and 2nd degree; Kidnapping 1st and 2nd degree; Unlawful Imprisonment; Sexual Exploitation of a Minor; Dealing in Depictions of a Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct; Sending or Bringing into the State Depictions of a Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct; Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes; Patronizing a Juvenile Prostitute.

Any federal, military, foreign, or out-of-state conviction for an offense that would have been one of the foregoing offenses under the laws of the State of Washington. any gross misdemeanor that is, under RCW 9A.28, a criminal attempt, criminal solicitation, or criminal conspiracy to commit an offense that is classified as a sex offense under RCW 9.94A.030.

Any felony with a finding of sexual motivation.

Q. Are juveniles required to registered if convicted of a sex offense?
Yes. Juveniles and adults must register for the same crimes.

Q. Why is the offender living in my neighborhood?
The Sheriff's Office cannot place any restrictions on where an offender lives in any community. As part of the offender's release, they submit a release plan that is reviewed by the Department of Corrections prior to the offender's release. The plan may be declined if the offender's residence would be considered a risk to the community based on the offender's victim range. While you may not be happy about an offender living in your area, it is important to realize that at least you are aware of this offender. There are individuals who have never been caught and continue to offend in your community. The best defense you can have is being educated in how to protect yourself and your family members from being victimized by anyone.

Q. When is the Sheriff's Office going to move the offender out of my neighborhood?
The Sheriff's Office lacks any authority in forcing an offender to move from one location to another. The Sheriff's Office is granted the authority to give community notification about specific offenders considered a moderate or high risk to the community. The Sheriff's Office also verifies that all sex offenders are living where they are registered. We also actively seek out those offenders who fail to register or fail to make proper notification of an address change.

Q. Are you going to tell us if the offender moves out of this neighborhood so we don't have to worry any more?
We will not be contacting the public if this offender moves to another location. Offenders move on a regular basis. You should not think that, just because this particular offender moves, you are safe. You should take appropriate actions, be safe, and remain education about sex offender to protect you from all offenders, whether you know where they live or not.

Q. What do I tell my children about this offender?
Don't tell them the scary details about the crimes. Keep information general, as it may protect them from others who would harm them. The goal is that your child is educated about being safe from everyone including strangers, acquaintances, or family members who would victimize them. Here are some basic do's and don'ts regarding known offenders.

>>Don't accept a ride from the offender
>>Don't go into the home or yard of the offender
>>Do tell your parents if this person offers you toys, money, or gifts
>>Do play with others and in groups when you can
>>Do call 9-1-1 if your parents are not home and you are approached by the offender

Q. Now that I know a sex offender lives in my neighborhood, what should I do differently to protect my family and myself?
Whether or not a sex offender lives in your neighborhood, you should educate yourself and your family in safety concerns. This is a time to reinforce family safety planning and specific concerns about this offender.

Q. What are the responsibilities of sex offenders who are required to be registered?
Offenders are required to register at the time of release from a state prison or within twenty-four hours if released from a county or local jail. Offenders who are convicted but not confined must register immediately upon completion of being sentenced.

Offenders who move to Washington from another state or foreign country and who are not under supervision at the time of moving to Washington must register within 30 days of establishing residence if the person is a former Washington resident.

If a person is not a resident of Washington but is a student, employed, or carries on a vocation in Washington, he/she must register in the county where the person's school is located, the county where he/she is employed, or the county where the person carries on a vocation. "Employed or carries on a vocation" mean employment that is full-time or part-time for a period of time exceeding fourteen (14) days, or a total of thirty (30) days during a calendar year.

Offenders who are attending, or planning to attend, a public or private school regulated under Title 28A RCW or Chapter 72.40 RCW shall, within ten (10) days of enrolling or prior to arriving at the school to attend class--whichever is earlier--notify the sheriff for the county of their person's residence of the person's intent to attend the school.

Offenders required to register in Washington, who move to another state, or who work, carry on a vocation, or attend school in another state shall register with the new state within ten (10) days after establishing residence, or after beginning to work, carry on a vocation, or attend school in the new state. The person must also send written notice within ten (10) days of moving to the new state or to a foreign county and the county sheriff with whom the person last registered in Washington.

Offenders moving to a new residence within the same county must send written notice to the county sheriff within seventy-two (72) hours of moving. If an offender moves to a new Washington county, the person must send written notice fourteen (14) before moving to the county sheriff in the new county of residence and must register within twenty-four (24) hours of moving. The person must also send written notice with ten (10) days of the change of address to the county sheriff with whom the person last registered.

Any offender who lacks a fixed residence shall provide written notice the sheriff of the county where he/she last registered within forty-eight (48) hours excluding weekends and holidays after ceasing to have a fixed residence. A person who lacks a fixed residence must report weekly, in person, to the sheriff of the county where he/she is registered. The weekly report is at a day and time specified by the county sheriff and occurs during normal business hours.

Q. I know an offender who was convicted of a sex offense but his/her name is not on the list. Why don't I see it?
There are several reasons an offender is not on a registration list or is not currently registered.
>>If the offender is considered a level I sex offender, no community notification is required. Level I sex offenders are not posted on the intranet and fliers are not distributed.
>>In some cases sex offenders are relieved of the duty to register by a court.
>>Once an offender has successfully completed the registration period (10 years for class C felonies and Gross Misdemeanors and 15 years for class B felonies) they can be relieved of the duty to register. The offender must request to be relieved of duty to register and must have been conviction free from all crimes during the entire registration period.
>>The offender does not qualify for registration under RCW 9A.44.130.
>>The offender was convicted of an offense that does not require or allow for registration in Washington.
>>The offender may be in violation. If you believe this to be the case, please contact the law enforcement agency responsible for the community the offender is living in.

Q. Is there a place I can view the sex offender/kidnapping law?
RCW 9A.44.130--Registration of sex offenders and kidnapping offenders--Procedures-Definitions-Penalties.

Q. How long are convicted sex offenders required to register?
How long an offender must register depends upon the sex offense for which they were convicted.>>A per
son convicted of a Class A felony or of any sex offense or kidnapping offense who has one or more prior convictions for a sex offense or kidnapping offense is required to register continuously, unless a superior court grants a petition order relieving the person of his duty to register.
>>A person convicted of a Class B felony who does not have one or more prior convictions for a sex offense or kidnapping offense is required to register for fifteen years after release from confinement (including full-time residential treatment). If he/she is not convicted of any new offense during the fifteen year period, the person is no longer required to register.
>>A person who has been convicted of a Class C felony or Gross Misdemeanor that is under RCW 9A.28 is required to register for ten years after their release from confinement, if any (including full-time residential treatment). If he/she is not convicted of any new offense during the ten year period, the person is no longer required to register.
>>For foreign country, federal, military, or out-of-state sex offenses, the registration period is determined by the classification of the offense if it had occurred under Washington law.

Q. What does it mean to be a Level I, II, or III sex offender?
Each county sheriff is responsible for determining the risk level for an offender. These levels are level I, II, and III. For offenders being released from prison, the Department of Corrections' End of Sentence Review Committee provides a recommended level. The sheriff takes this recommended level into consideration when determining risk to the community where the offender will reside. In Cowlitz County, regardless of level, all registration information is shared with each law enforcement agency within the county, Department of Corrections, Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, Cowlitz County Prosecutor's Office, and Cowlitz County Juvenile.
>>Level I offenders are considered a low risk to re-offend. Most offenders are in this category. No community notification is done and information is not available on either the Sheriff's Office web page or the state sex offender registry web page.
>>Level II offenders are considered a moderate risk to re-offend. Fliers are distributed to the neighborhood where the offender has registered an address. Schools, daycare, and other community groups are notified. The offender will be found on the state registry web page.
>>Level III offenders are considered high risk to re-offend. In addition to the notifications done for level II offenders, information is provided to the media and the offender will be found on the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office web page.

Q. Why do some offenders not have conditions?
Offenders are only bound by conditions of supervision while they are on active supervision by the Department of Corrections, Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, or county probation department. After completing active supervision, the offender's only requirement is that of continuing to register as a sex offender as required by law.

Q. I've seen advertisements for web sites that offer sex offender information for a fee. Isn't this information supposed to be free?
Law enforcement agencies have a duty to inform the public at no charge when a registered sex offender settles in a neighborhood. There are companies that will provide this information to you for a fee. Not only should you not have to pay for this information, often times the information is unreliable and not accurate.

Q. Can a registered sex offender babysit my children?
In March 2002, the crime of Leaving a Child in the Care of a Sex Offender was enacted. To see the actual law, please click here.

Q. I've heard that there is a website where I can search for sex offenders living in my neighborhood. What is the address?
The Washington State Sex Offender Information Center is a website created by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs at the direction of the Washington State legislature. This site allows you to search for RSO's living near you by searching an area around the address you provide. In Cowlitz County, we use the Offender Watch program, available for your use here. To search, click here.