Court of Appeals: Div. III – Court Cannot Add Requirements to Statute for Sex Offender’s Petition
This case is a consolidated appeal wherein two petitioners’ cases appealing the same issue were decided together by the Court of Appeals.
Hooper and Felice were both convicted of sex crimes when they were 13 and 12 years old respectively. Both were required to register as sex offenders. In 2008, they both petitioned the court to relieve them of their duties to register as sex offenders. The trial court denied both petitions because Spokane County Juvenile Court requires that a petitioner who was under 15 when he committed the sex offense produce updated polygraph test results and an updated psychological evaluation before the court will consider relieving a petitioner of his duty to register. Neither petitioner did this.
RCW 9A.44.140(4) sets out the requirements for a sex offender to petition for relief to register:
An offender having a duty to register under RCW 9A.44.130 for a sex offense . . . committed when the offender was a juvenile may petition the superior court to be relieved of that duty. The court shall consider the nature of the registerable offense committed, and the criminal and relevant noncriminal behavior of the petitioner both before and after adjudication, and may consider other factors.
The lower court believed that “may consider other factors” granted it authority to require additional conditions before considering a petition. Division III held that “may consider other factors” to mean the court can think about other things, but it cannot require the petitioner to produce other things.
The Court went on to say that indeed the requirement of an updated polygraph test and an updated psychological evaluation is a great idea, but unfortunately that is not what the statute requires. The lower court’s order denying the petitions for failure to provide the test and evaluation was reversed. However, this does not mean that Hooper’s and Felice’s petitions are granted. The lower court will still have discretion to deny the petition after giving the statutory considerations. I bet I can guess what the result of the next hearing will be: