Has Enough Time Passed?
If a person was under the age of 15 when the sex offense occurred, the law allows for the person to petition the court two years following conviction if the person has been crime free. For those over the age of 15 when the offense occurred, the law does not provide a specific timeline but does place a higher burden of proof on the petitioner before the court can relieve the petitioner of his/her duty to register as a sex offender.
What Factors Are Important to the Court?
When petitioning to have the sex offender registration requirement removed, the court will want to know a lot about the petitioner. The court will consider, at a minimum, the offense, the relevant criminal and noncriminal behavior both before and after the offense. Success and progress in special sex offender treatment and other counseling will be very important. Everything that shows the petitioner is living a stable and positive life is important to provide to the court as well.
What is the Legal Standard?
For those who were over the age of 15 at the time of the sex offense, the legal standard is higher than for those who were under the age of 15 at the time of the offense. The petitioners who were older at the time of the offense must prove to the court by "clear and convincing" evidence that continued registration will not serve the purposes of the sex offender registration laws. Those petitioners who were younger need only prove by a "preponderance" of the evidence that they need not register. A preponderance is a "more likely than not" standard.
How Do I Present This to the Court?
Information is put together in a written petition that is filed with the court and the prosecutor. Petitioner should be aware that the petition will go in an open court file. Typically, these petitions are prepared by an attorney familiar with the process. A hearing will be scheduled where the judge will review the written petition and make a decision. The prosecutor may oppose the request, support the request or simply take no position and let the judge decide.
What Is the Downside to Petitioning the Court?
None. You have nothing to lose.