One of the harshest consequences of a conviction for sex crimes in California is the sex offender registry. If found guilty of a serious sex offense, you must register as a sex offender, and if you relocate to another place, you must update your details in the registry. Registering as a sex offender can impact where you can live, work, what kind of professional license or job you can obtain, not to mention other consequences. That’s why you need to talk to an attorney as soon as you are arrested so they can fight for you to avoid a conviction.

At Sex Crime Criminal Defense Attorney, we have trusted lawyers with several years of experience serving clients facing sex crime charges in Los Angeles. We understand these kinds of cases are highly sensitive and need expert representation to ensure your rights are protected. Contact us, and we’ll start building a solid defense strategy for your case.

Overview of Sex Offender Registration

In 1947, California became the first state to pass a statewide sex offender statute to monitor all convicted sex offenders’ locations before other states were required to follow suit in 1994. In 1996, Congress amended registry laws by adopting Megan’s Law. Megan’s Law requires police departments to avail info concerning registered sex offenders to the public.

California Sex Offender Registration Statute Underwent Some Changes

On October 6th, 2017, Jerry Brown, Governor of California, signed into law SB (Senate Bill) 384, which made considerable changes to the state’s sex offender registration statute, Penal Code (PC) 290, and related laws. The changes took effect on 1st January 2021.

The primary reason for making the change was to create various periods of mandatory registration for varying categories of crimes. Per the previous law, all the accused persons required to register as sex offenders in California had to do so for their entire life. However, per the new law, sex offenders are categorized into three levels known as tiers, each with its period of mandatory registration— life, twenty years, and ten years. A new law (PC 290.008) sets forth two levels for young offenders obligated to register as sex offenders for ten and five years.

Three Levels of Sex Offender Registration Requirements

PC 290(c)details the crimes that you must register as a sex offender if found guilty. These crimes are still the same ones listed under the previous law. PC 290 (d) then classifies those crimes into three levels with three varying registration periods required. Apart from the crimes outlined under PC 290(c), PC 290.006 gives the court the discretion to order registration for a conviction should it find that you committed the crime for sexual gratification purposes or due to sexual compulsion.

If that is the case, the judge has the power to order that you register as a tier three, two, or one, with reasons listed on tier three or tier two placement record {PC 290.006(b)}. The law outlines five factors that the court ought to consider when determining the tier you should be placed {PC 290.006(c)}. They include:

  • The registerable crime’s nature
  • Your criminal or relevant noncriminal conduct after and before being convicted of the registerable crime
  • Whether you have been found guilty of or arrested for any sexually motivated crime in the past
  • How many victims were involved, their age, and whether any was a stranger to you when you were committing the crime. A victim is deemed a stranger to the defendant if the defendant knew them for less than twenty-four hours.
  • Your present risk of a violent or sexual offense, including your risk level on the SARATSO (Static Risk Assessment Instrument for Sex Offenders)

Tier Three

If you are a tier-three offender, you’ll be required to continue registering as a sex offender for life, provided you live in California State. Specific crimes that require registration for life include, among others:

  • Murder accomplished during the commission of rape.
  • Kidnapping during the commission of rape
  • Spousal rape by force
  • Felony sexual battery
  • Sex trafficking minors

You are also required to register as a tier three sex offender if:

  • You’re placed in a mental facility as a sexually violent offender.
  • After being mandated to register previously because of a separate conviction, you are found guilty of a registerable crime described as violent.
  • You have the habitual sex offender title,
  • You are a mentally disordered sex
  • You are an individual whose level of risk on the SARATSO is beyond average at the time of your release into the public.

Tier Two

If you are a tier two offender, you are obligated to comply with the sex offender registration requirement for at least twenty years. A tier two offender is one found guilty of:

  • A registerable crime that’s considered a violent or serious felony per PC 667.5(c) and PC 1192.7(c),
  • Violating PC 286(g) or (h), PC 285, PC 288a subdivision (h) or (g), PC 289(b), or PC 647.6 if it’s a second/subsequent crime that was charged and prosecuted separately.

Tier One

If you are categorized as a tier-one offender, the law will require you to register as a sex offender for at least ten years. A tier one offender is a defendant convicted of any crime listed under PC 290(c) that is a misdemeanor/felony not categorized as violent or serious under PC 66.7.5(c) or PC 1192.7(c).

PC 290(e) provides that the necessary registration period in tier two or tier one kick off on the day you are released from commitment or incarceration. The period will be tolled during subsequent commitments or incarcerations. The least registration period is extended by three years for every felony crime of failing to register and a year for every misdemeanor failure to comply with the registration requirement. Any subsequent conviction of a registerable crime resets the time when you are released from incarceration/commitment.

Termination of Sex Offender Registration Requirement

The new PC 290.5 sets forth the process of filing a petition seeking to remove register as a sex offender after the stipulated registration period ends. Bringing a petition prompts a requirement that the relevant law enforcement agencies forward a report to the trial court and prosecutor about whether you have met all the termination requirements per PC 290(e). The prosecutor may demand that a hearing be scheduled after the petition filing if you don’t meet all the termination requirements or if your continued registration would substantially enhance public safety.

In case the district attorney (DA) doesn’t request a hearing, and you satisfy all the registration termination requirements, the judge will grant your petition. And in case the DA demands a hearing, they can present proof regarding whether the safety of the community could be considerably improved by requiring your continued registration. California law outlines factors the court should consider when deciding whether to grant or deny the petition. They include:

  • The facts and nature of your crime
  • Criminal and noncriminal conduct after and before conviction for the registerable crime
  • The period during which you have not reoffended
  • The number and age of victims, and whether any was a stranger at the time of the crime
  • Successful completion of Sex Offender Management Board-certified sex offender treatment program, if any.
  • Your present risk of violent or sexual repeat offense, including your risk levels on SORATSO dynamic, static, and risk evaluation instrument, if available.

If the judge denies your petition, he/she will set a timeframe— ranging from one to five years— then you can bring another petition.

Early Termination of Registration

The new PC 290.5(b) allows for early registration requirement termination for particular tier three and two offenders. If you’re obligated to register under tier two, you qualify for early registration termination if:

  • You were 21 years old during the commission of the crime requiring sex offender registration,
  • That crime isn’t listed under PC 236.1 or PC 667.5(c), and
  • There was one or no victim with a minimum of 14 years.

If all these facts are correct, you can file a petition to ease registering after ten years.

And if you are a tier-three offender, you are eligible for early termination if the registration is based only on your risk level, as described by the SARATSO. In this case, you can bring a petition for early termination after twenty years.

Juvenile Adjudications

Per the newly-implemented PC 290.008, young offenders named wards of the court due to the attempted commission or commission of given sex crimes are obligated to register as sex offenders for either ten or five years. A tier one young offender, whose adjudication is for a felony not considered violent or severe, is obligated to comply with the sex offender registration requirement for up to five years.

And in case the adjudicated crime is violent or serious, the juvenile will be categorized as a tier two offender, thus, will be obligated to register as a sex offender for up to ten years. When the required registration period ends, a juvenile offender can file a petition to be excluded from the offender registry.

Public Disclosure

The California DOJ (Department of Justice) operates and maintains the sex offender registry database in its Tracking Program. The info is then availed to the public through the DOJ’s internet website called Megan’s Law website.

PC 290.46 and PC 290.45 regulate the public disclosure of info in the offender registry. This allows the public to safeguard itself from sexual offenders. PC 290.46 sets forth the requirements to maintain offender registry details on Megan’s Law Website. For instance, only the information on registered sex offenders permitted to be disclosed under the state law is availed on this website. Per the California statute, given sex offenders aren’t subject to public disclosure; thus, they aren’t included on this website. Additionally, the law doesn’t allow crimes other than those that trigger registration to be disclosed on this website.

Exclusion from the Megan’s Law Website

PC 290.46(d) allows for exclusion from the Megan’s Law Website in given circumstances. This means some sex offenders may apply to seek to remove their names from the website. You can apply for exclusion from the website if you were convicted of:

  • PC 647.6, molesting or annoying a child.
  • Sexual battery accomplished through restraint, PC 243.4a,

You can also apply for removal from the website if you:

  • Committed any crime that didn’t involve oral copulation or penetration,
  • The victim involved was your child, grandchild, sibling, or stepchild, and
  • Have successfully served probation sentence for the crime

To kick off the removal process, you must complete the Megan’s Law exclusion form and submit it to the DOJ. Remember that you may meet the exclusion criteria mentioned above, but your application won’t be granted if the court finds that you are a sexually violent offender.

Both PC 290.46 and 290.45 protect against misusing the sex offender info made publicly available.

Failure to Comply With the Sex Offender Registration Requirement Is a Crime

PC 290 makes it an offense to fail to register as a sex offender willfully. This law aims at assuring that persons found guilty of sex offenses are always easily reachable for police surveillance at any time. This is required because the lawmakers have found them possibly to commit related crimes in the future.

The consequences for failure to register are based on whether the original crime you were convicted of was a felony or misdemeanor. If it was a misdemeanor, failing to register will also be a misdemeanor. The penalties include summary probation, up to $1,000 in fines, and a county jail sentence for a maximum of one year.

If found guilty of a felony sex crime, or you have previous convictions PC 290 violation, failing to register will be a felony with possible consequences being formal probation, up to $10,000 in fines, and a state prison sentence for sixteen months, three years, or two years.

Find an Experienced Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or your loved one is facing sex offense charges in Los Angeles, you could be ordered to register as a sex offender. And even though the new law has brought a little bit of relief for lesser, nonviolent offenders, appearing in the sex offender registry comes with dire consequences like affecting your reputation and social life. For this reason, you must talk to a skilled sex crimes defense lawyer as soon as possible if you’re facing charges.

At Sex Crime Criminal Defense Attorney, we have several years of experience successfully defending sex crime cases. We have managed to help many clients facing charges in Los Angeles to avoid appearing in the sex offender registry. And if you’ve already been found guilty of a sexual offense and are required to register as a sex offender, we may also help you petition to terminate your registration requirement. Contact us today at 424-835-9799 for a free consultation. We’ll help you through the difficult situation you’re facing.