Sex offender registry; penalty for failure to register. (HB964)

Introduced By

Del. Steve Shannon (D-Vienna)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Sex offender registry; penalties. Provides that any failure to register is a Class 6 felony; under current law failure to register for an offense other than a sexually violent offence or murder is a Class 1 misdemeanor and a second or subsequent conviction is a Class 6 felony. The bill requires the revocation of probation or parole if a person is convicted of failure to register and is on probation or parole for a sex offense or for failure to register. The bill specifies that similar offenses in other countries and states require registration, whether they are under existing or former laws. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/08/2008Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/08 086228724
01/08/2008Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/09/2008Impact statement from VCSC (HB964)
01/16/2008Assigned Courts sub: Criminal
02/01/2008Reported from Courts of Justice (22-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/01/2008Referred to Committee on Appropriations
02/05/2008Assigned App. sub: Public Safety (Sherwood)
02/12/2008Left in Appropriations


L. Lawless writes:

The current statute already makes a Failure to register a Class 6 Felony for "violent" offenders. This amendment would make it a Class 5 for an offender labeled "violent" and would raise minor offenders from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. If the offender is on probation or parole, ANY registry violation is punishable by the revocation of that status. The registry requirements are already confusing for the most functional person. Revocation of probation or parole for a minor technical violation seems a bit extreme. We could potentially be revoking parole for a young offender who is simply confused about the process or makes a mistake.

And Senator Webb says he is going to "get to the bottom of" the high rates of incarceration in this country...

rukidding writes:

My son was recently released from prison after serving time for a consensual sex offense with a younger teen. Nobody told him about the laws regarding registering email addresses, IM names, etc. and the requirement that those changes be reported to state police WITHIN 30 MINUTES. Luckily, I knew and told him to report any change. Under this bill, a failure to report a change in email within 30 minutes (a registry violation) would result in his probation being revoked. Seems a bit extreme.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Wow, if that's true, that's pretty stunning.

I signed up for a Yahoo Store a few weeks ago. I created an account, paid 'em a bunch of money, and set about getting it designed and built. After a couple of weeks I couldn't figure out a few things, so I e-mailed tech support. A week went by and I never heard a peep. Come to find out, they'd made a Yahoo e-mail address for me, a new e-mail account that I didn't know existed, and they'd sent the response e-mail to that account.

I wonder, were I somebody subject to this regulation, would I have violated state law by not reporting my new e-mail address that I didn't know I had?

L. Lawless writes:

Waldo, that is true.

Section G of 9.1-903 of the Code of Virginia states:
"Any person required to register shall reregister either in person or electronically with the local law-enforcement agency where his residence is located within 30 minutes following any change of the electronic mail address information, any instant message, chat or other Internet communication name or identity information that the person uses or intends to use, whether within or without the Commonwealth."

This proposed bill states that anyone "who knowingly fails to register or reregister, or who knowingly provides materially false information to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry" is guilty of a Class 6 Felony. It further states (section F) "If a person convicted under this section is on probation or parole for an offense for which registration is required as defined in § 9.1-902, or for a conviction under this section, his probation or parole shall be revoked."

The "knowingly" part is pretty generally disregarded and is generally construed to mean "should have known" or :had reason to believe".

The current statute was revised last year to include all of the electronic info - over the objections of tech experts who tried to explain (at the federal level, where it is also included as part of SORNA) that this was ridiculous and unenforceable. However, there it is and people WILL get convicted for violating it.

rukidding writes:

Interestingly, VA state police say that they have no system in place to allow offenders to meet this requirement. A representative told me that the email/IM law was "not well thought-out" but they "have to enforce it."

Del. Shannon noted that in the House Courts of Justice that registration "is simple" and there is no reason for offenders not to comply. It's not just registration at issue - there are many additional pieces that fall under the current statute and can trip up even well-meaning people.

There have also been instances (state police told me this) in which the police themselves have LOST reregistration documentation and offenders were charged. He advised my son to keep all his documentation in the event that THEY LOST IT.

Just too many reasons why we should let probation officers do their jobs and allow judicial discretion instead of legislating everything to death.