Criminal Law

Sex Offender Deregistration

Incarceration and registration for a sex crime is often a dehumanizing experience. However, Arkansas provides a process for terminating the requirement to register as a sex offender after fifteen years, if you meet the requirements of Arkansas Code § 12-12-919.

The statute that allows this, “termination of obligation to register,” (§ 12-12-919), provides a mechanism for qualifying Arkansas sex offenders to petition the court that sentenced them for an order ending their requirement to register. Additionally, sex offenders sentenced in another state, but permanently residing in Arkansas, may petition the court in the county they reside.

To qualify for removal from the Arkansas Sex Offender Registry, the petitioner must meet the following requirements:

Did not commit an “aggravated sex offense.”
Cannot be a community notification Level 4 (sexually dangerous person)
Did not plead guilty, nolo contendere, or was not found guilty of a second or subsequent sex offense under a separate case number, and

Note: A Notice of Appeal was filed February 23, 2018 in State v. Wyly, challenging the denial of an Arkansas petition where “…Wyly was charged in two case numbers and pleaded guilty at the same time.”

It has been either:
Fifteen (15) years since release from incarceration or other institution
Fifteen (15) years since being placed on probation or any other form of community supervision
Or, for a period of fifteen (15) years the applicant has not been found guilty of a sex offense
Finally, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they are not likely to pose a threat to the safety of others.

What information will the court consider when looking at my petition for removal from the sex offender registry?

The court must be convinced that you are not likely to pose a threat. The burden of proof is lower than that of a criminal conviction. However, you must show that continued registration is not consistent with the purpose of registration (e.g., you are not a threat).

Registration is intended to
notify the community of possible threats
provide police with a means of monitoring sex offenders and
lower the likelihood of re-offense (it doesn’t, but that is a topic for future discussion).

Basically, if you are not a Level 4 offender, Arkansas law allows for an argument that fifteen years of good behavior is a good indicator that you do not need to be monitored.

There are many factors that a Court will consider (and the State will argue) during your required petition hearing.

Arkansas law does not list factors, but expect any of the following areas to be fair game:
Testimony by expert witnesses supporting the State
Testimony by witnesses/victims of your prior crime(s)
Allegations of inappropriate acts
Substance abuse history
Content in any Sex Offender Assessment(s)
Note: During the assessment related to your conviction, you were advised that you are immune from prosecution for disclosing information. While this is technically true, the petition hearing is not a criminal proceeding and your assessment(s) may be used by the State.
Employment history
Education history
Mental health history
Relationship history
Counseling history
Sex offender treatment history (treatment is highly recommended)
Criminal history

How do we prepare for your hearing?

In preparation for a de-registration hearing we work with clients to develop a history that shows why they should no longer be required to register as a sex offender. This process includes information releases for medical, counseling, treatment, prison and offender assessment records. A social history is developed, and we contact pertinent law enforcement agencies; offender reporting agencies and courts. If your case requires expert witness testimony we can assist you in obtaining evaluations and witnesses. We may also interview family members, community members and others that will speak on your behalf or help develop a history of model conduct.

What happens if the petition is denied?

The State will object to your petition, it is critical that you hire competent legal counsel.
A petition may be brought one year after the decision to deny is filed.

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