I frequently represent juveniles accused of sexual offenses of various kinds, from the slightest inappropriate touching to the most serious felony offenses. Invariably, the juvenile and the parents are concerned about the possibility mandatory sex offender registration. This is a legitimate concern, as sex offender registration is often a lifelong stigma that prevents one from obtaining work and can substantially limit housing options. In addition, the registry is readily accessible to the general public, thereby creating a sense of perpetual ridicule and shame in the community. Fair or not, having one's name placed on the sex offender registry is a life altering event.
The good news is that most juvenile charges are handled in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, which usually means that registration is not required, even for conviction of an offense that would otherwise require registration pursuant to Virginia Code §9.1.902. However, many juvenile felony offenses are certified to the adult circuit court through the provisions of Virginia Code §16.1-269.1. This code section allows the Commonwealth's Attorney to request a hearing in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for any minor who is at least 14 years old to have the matter certified to the Circuit Court, where the minor is treated as an adult offender.
Pursuant to Virginia Code §9.1-901, any juvenile convicted of an offense in Circuit Court which would require registration is required to register as a sex offender. In addition, the Commonwealth's Attorney can file a motion to have any charge for which registration would be required of an adult trigger registration of a juvenile where the minor is at least 13 years old. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court would rule on the issue of registration after the motion is filed.
The bottom line is that some juvenile offenses can result in a lifetime of sex offender registration. This must be taken into consideration in addressing any sexual allegation against a minor. If you or a child you care about are facing these types of charges, call us right away. We will sit down and discuss you specific situation and determine the best course of action.