Reply To: Cato Inst. files amicus brief to Supreme Court in ex post facto case

Daniel Silverman

It seems that those in charge do whatever they like with those of us on the registry. Take my case, for example. Here in Virginia, we don’t have a tier system. They only have “violent” and “non-violent”. Those in the “violent” category are on the registry for life. I was accused of a one-second touch to my daughter’s breast. Due to the way Virginia law is written, because of my relation to the victim and her age, I was able to be charged with Aggravated Sexual Battery. I took a plea deal because I was told that it didn’t matter if I plead not guilty or not, if my daughter was willing to even take the stand, I would get 20 years. I was dumbfounded and afraid.

My trial was a bench trial. The judge who sentenced me did something unusual. He ordered me to have to register, but in the court order specifically stated I was NOT to be registered as violent. This was contrary to Virginia code. As a result, I was registered as violent any way. I sent a letter to the judge asking for clarification and his intent on the matter. The letter I got back clearly stated that it was indeed the judge’s intent for me to be classified and registered as non-violent. It took me almost 8 years, but I was finally able to get the Virginia State Police to comply with the court order and register me as non-violent.

In Virginia, a non-violent sex offender can petition the court to be removed from the registry. So, now that I was finally registered as non-violent, I did just that. The judge I was given verbally admitted, during the hearing, that he was biased against me and, as a result, refused my petition. About a week or so later, I got a letter from the court about another court date. The reason? The attorney general wanted to have my case reviewed to see why I was registered as non-violent when the code is clear that Aggravated Sexual Battery is a violent charge.

It had been almost 10 years since my release from jail. The original judge, who had ordered me registered as non-violent and had verified this via a letter to me, did not remember the case. Despite reading his own letter, he said this had to have been a mistake. The end-result? They changed my court order and now I am forced to be registered as violent. And the end result of that? I will be on the registry for the rest of my life with no chance to petition for removal.

How did the attorney general find out about my case? Well, remember that biased judge? He was so angry that I had petitioned to be removed from the registry that he personally contacted the attorney generals office to have them look into it.