The registry, available online, is a service that is open for anyone to use. In the past three years, the Princeton Detachment of the West Virginia State Police has had more than felony arrests on sex offender registrations. The charges can stem from various issues, such as a convicted offender failing to register with the state, to one who did not contact police within the mandatory time frame after changing a telephone number.
Long, an expert on the sex offender registry process at the Princeton Detachment. The goal is take proactive measures by monitoring convicted offenders in an effort to prevent another child or adult from becoming a victim of a sex crime, Long said. Some are sentenced to a year registration; others must register for life. The West Virginia State Police website lists all sexual offenders.
To access the registrations, log on to the State Police web site, www. Also, any sex offender convicted in another state who moves to West Virginia must register, as do offenders who live in another state but work or attend school in West Virginia. Sex offenders who fail to register in West Virginia or Virginia or update their registration face felony charges. For example, in West Virginia a convicted sex offender has 10 business days to notify the state police of status changes on his or her registration such as a new car, new job or a move to a new home.
Long said if they do not notify the state police of this change within the required time frame, they are charged with a felony offense, which carries a potential prison sentence of one to five years. A second offense violation carries a possible to year prison sentence. Failing to register as a sex offender is also a felony offense in the Commonwealth, with a first offense carrying a potential five-year prison sentence, Lee said. Those convicted of a second offense could face up to 10 years in the penitentiary.
Virginia also has strict time frames in place for offenders to notify authorities of changes on their registration. For example, Lee said if a convicted sex offender was allowed to have an Internet connection and e-mail, this information would be part of his or her registration with the state.
I think people would be surprised by how many there are in any given community. While this law does not prohibit a convicted sex offender from picking up his or her child from school, it does prohibit the individual from hanging out there or having contact with a child that is not in his or her custody.
Sex offenders on probation may face even tougher monitoring in Virginia. The ability of sexual predators to reach out and make contact with victims has become much easier. The details of the conversation may vary depending on the age of the child.
With younger children, parents should discuss with them the importance of not having contact with the individual, not going to his or her house and not having contact if approached. Living in small, rural communities does not isolate families from the dangers of sexual offenders. Lee said the most surprising development he has witnessed in recent years is the increased number of juvenile sex offenders.