The state of California takes sex crimes very seriously. The laws surrounding such offenses are very strict and can be difficult to circumvent. Possible sex crimes include sexual assault, rape, prostitution, luring of minor, sexual conduct with a minor, date rape, spousal rape, and lewd conduct. The penalties for such acts are severe and can include fines, jail time and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
Being forced to register as such an offender can have far-reaching effects that will haunt you for the rest of your life. Registration often leads to social ostracism, hatred, and infamy among your community. Often such prejudice is not warranted by the actual magnitude of the offense. If you are looking for an exemption from or to have your information removed from California’s sex offenders list, you should hire a Los Angeles sex crime defense attorney from our firm.
Criminal law in California is based on the Penal Code. The laws for sex crimes are within section 290. This law dictates that any convicted sex offender must register in the database. Their information will then be publicly displayed on Megan’s Law website. According to §290.46, there are four categories that a registered offender will fall under on the site. These include:
For all individuals who fall under the first category, their home address and information about the individual themselves will be posted online. Those who are in the second category committed a different type of offense. The same information as the first category will be provided. For those who are in the third category, their zip code—but not their actual home address—will be posted. The fourth and final category includes offenders whose information cannot be displayed on the internet at all. These individuals are still registered sex offenders and are therefore known by law enforcement agencies, but they remain private to the general community.
The law requires that an individual who is convicted of a listed offense must register as a sex offender. This individual must appear in person at their local police or sheriff’s department to register. After being released from custody, the offender has five working days to appear at one of these local departments. Should the individual change residences, they again have only five working days from the move to re-register. Every year a registrant must update their registration within five days of their birthday. Anyone who is considered to be a violent predator must update their status every 90 days and a transient—or homeless—offender must do so every 30 days.
California law has undergone many changes recently, particularly concerning the sex offender registry. In the past, a requirement to register as a sex offender would result in a universal requirement for anyone guilty of a sex offense, regardless of the severity. Under the old system, offenders were required to register for life.
As of January 1, 2021, a new law has changed the registration requirement.
Under the new system, offenders are placed into various tiers based on their specific offenses. In this system, tier-one offenses are the least severe and tier-three are the most severe, reserved for “high-risk” offenders. Under the three tiers:
As mentioned above, a sex offender placed into the first two tiers can ask to be removed from the registry after they have completed the minimum registration time frame. When we turn to California law, we can see that removal from the sex offender registry is not automatic. A person must actually petition to be removed from the registry.
After a person petitions for removal from the registry, the prosecution is allowed to request a hearing to challenge the petition. A judge will make the final determination about whether or not a person will be removed from the sex offender registry in California. The judge over the petition will consider various factors related to the case, the offender, and the offender’s circumstances. This will include examining any further legal trouble the offender has had since the original sex offense conviction.
As with traditional criminal offense matters, it is crucial for a person to work with a skilled California sex offense attorney in these situations. An attorney will understand the weight of these petitions for removal, and they will be able to assist you with part of this process.
In addition to the petition for removal under the new law, there are other avenues that you can take in your efforts to avoid the sex registration requirement. The first is applying for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation. This certificate essentially declares your criminal history a thing of the past and certifies that you abide by the law and are rehabilitated. When you receive this certification, there are a number of benefits. First and foremost, in some situations, it will relieve you of your duty to register as an offender. It also means that a state licensing agency cannot automatically deny you a license. It becomes an automatic application to the state governor for a pardon. If you then receive this pardon, any prior felonies cannot be used to destroy your credibility as a witness.