Sex offender registry; failure of defendant to register. (SB1374)

Introduced By

Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Burke)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Sex offender registry; failure to register. Provides that a defendant cannot raise as a defense to a charge of failure to register as a sex offender the fact that he did not receive information outlining registration duties and procedures from a state entity. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/20/2015Presented and ordered printed 15102972D
01/20/2015Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/02/2015Reported from Courts of Justice (13-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/03/2015Constitutional reading dispensed (38-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/04/2015Read second time and engrossed
02/05/2015Read third time and passed Senate (38-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/08/2015Impact statement from DPB (SB1374)
02/09/2015Placed on Calendar
02/09/2015Read first time
02/09/2015Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/09/2015Assigned Courts sub: Criminal Law
02/16/2015Subcommittee recommends laying on the table
02/24/2015Left in Courts of Justice


Mary Devoy writes:

The State has already excused the Virginia State Police for giving out out-dated information for our RSO’s with this current statute

SB1374 would excuse ANY Virginia Department
• The Commonwealth’s Attorney
• The Department of Corrections
• The Office of the Attorney General
• The Virginia State Police
• …..etc
from advising a newly convicted Virginian who must register as a Sex Offender that they must even go and register within 3 days (not 3 business days) of the conviction or when they are released from prison or jail.

I can tell all of you from experience, the Commonwealths’ Attorney, your defense attorney and the Judge don’t advise a defendant what they can or can’t do when they are convicted of a Registrable Offense.

SB1374 removes ANY responsibility from ANY Virginia Department to answer ANY questions an RSO has about the current State or Federal restrictions or regulations that only apply to them (not every Virginian), that change retroactively every year and that carry a Felony punishment for violating.

With this bill the VSP Sex Offender Hotline (which is only available Mon-Fri 9am to 4pm) could be completely shut-down, is that the goal here?

What about the re-registration letters that tell a registered Virginian their photo is due (every two years) or that they must come in by a specific date to re-register, with this bill the VSP could stop sending the letters all together and there has NOT been a bill to implement a new system to take over.

This proposal would allow the VSP not to tell any newly registered Virginian ANY restrictions.

I’ve personally experienced and shared with all the Virginia Legislators VSP Troopers taking re-registrations who’ve had an attitude or an axe-to-grind and only because I knew the law up-and-down did I know they were out of line or incorrect. With SB1374 the person in authority could purposefully tell an RSO the wrong information setting them up for a failure to register and they won’t be liable!

Court Rulings:
• California
 May 2004- Failure to Register, a defendant MUST know of the duty to register for life as a sex offender in order to be convicted of failure to register
• Florida
 March 2004- Failure to Register, a defendant MUST know of the duty to register as a sex offender in order to be convicted of failure to register
• Iowa
 2011- Failure to Register, a defendant MUST know of the duty to register as a sex offender in order to be convicted of failure to register

If Virginia is going to remove ALL responsibility in advising our RSO’s of their legal obligations and still charge them with a failure to register for violating the rule they were never advise of because there is no requirement of “intent” (mens rea) for the defendant then I believe this bill (if it becomes law) could be challenged in the Virginia Supreme Court.

SB1374 WILL lead to a significant increase of Failures-to-Register as well as proximity/loitering violations in the Commonwealth for people who had no intent to violate a restriction or regulation.

This bill is one of the worst ideas I have ever read in my 7 years as a volunteer advocate.

Does this have something to do with the fiscal deficit the State is in?

I don’t know but this is NOT the way to make up the difference.