In California, individuals convicted of certain sex offenses are required to register as sex offenders under Megan’s Law. The law mandates that authorities make public the addresses and crimes of these individuals, which can have serious and lasting consequences on their personal and professional lives.
Historically, California has been among only four states in the US to require lifetime registration for convicted sex offenders, with the others being Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida. However, recent changes to the law mean that as of 2021, approximately 90% of California’s sex offenders will no longer be required to register for life.
This change is due to a new tiered registration system that takes into account the severity of the offense and the likelihood of reoffending. While the most serious offenders will still be required to register for life, others may be able to petition for removal from the registry after a certain amount of time has passed without any further offenses.
It’s important to note that while the change in California law may have a significant impact on the lives of many convicted sex offenders, the state’s commitment to public safety remains unchanged. Authorities will continue to closely monitor individuals who pose a risk to their communities, and Megan’s Law will remain in effect to provide the public with information about convicted sex offenders.
In Oct 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed California State Senate Bill 384 (SB 384) into law, which introduced a new three-tiered system for sex offender registration in the state. This law aims to differentiate sex offenses based on the severity of the crime committed.
The new law officially went into effect on January 1, 2021. The purpose of the three-tiered system is to provide a more nuanced approach to sex offender registration in California, with the goal of reducing the number of individuals required to register for life. By categorizing offenders based on their level of risk to the community, the state hopes to better manage the registry and more effectively allocate resources to those offenders who pose the greatest threat.
Starting July 2021, individuals who are registered as Tier 1 or Tier 2 sex offenders in California and have met their mandatory minimum requirements will be eligible to petition their local superior court to have their names removed from the sex offender registry.
Three Tiers Sex Offender System California
The tier placement for sex offenders in California is determined by the criteria outlined in Penal Code 290. However, many of the registration requirements will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and subject to the discretion of a judge.
The severity of the crime and the number of offenses committed will be crucial factors in determining which tier an offender will be placed in. As part of the new three-tiered system for sex offender registration in California, offenders will be classified into Tiers 1, 2, or 3 based on their level of risk to the community.
For example, the most serious offenders, such as those convicted of violent sex crimes or crimes against children, will be required to register for life under Tier 3. Meanwhile, those who have committed less serious offenses will be placed in Tier 2 and required to register for at least 20 years. Tier 1 will include individuals who pose the lowest risk to public safety, and they may petition for removal from the registry after 10 years of registration.
Overall, the tier placement of an offender will be subject to careful evaluation of the circumstances of their offense, and the new tiered system is intended to provide a more nuanced approach to sex offender registration in California.
Sex Offender Registry Tier 1 (10-Year Registration, 5 years for juvenile conviction)
As of July 1, 2021, individuals classified under Tier 1 who are required to register as a sex offender may petition for removal from the registry if they have completed the minimum registration period of 10 years, or 5 years if the individual was a minor at the time of the offense. Tier 1 includes certain non-violent felony and misdemeanor sex offenses, such as:
- Indecent exposure (Penal Code 314)
- Misdemeanor child pornography (Penal Code 311.11)
- Misdemeanor oral copulation (Penal Code 288a)
- Misdemeanor sexual battery (Penal Code 243.4), among others
Tier One Level Crimes Include:
- Penal Code 243.4 – sexual battery as a misdemeanor is illegal under this code section.
- Penal Code 243.4 – If a person commits sexual battery against a victim who is institutionalized for medical treatment, seriously disabled, or medically incapacitated, and the touching is non-consensual and for the purposes of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse, then.
- Enticing a child into a house of prostitution is considered a criminal offense under Penal Code 266.
- Inducing sex by fraud is a criminal offense under Penal Code 266c.
- Sodomy, whether with or without a minor, is considered a misdemeanor under Penal Code 286 in some cases.
- Sodomy without the use of force can also be charged as a felony under Penal Code 286, with or without a minor.
- Oral copulation, whether with or without a minor, is considered a misdemeanor under Penal Code 288a in some cases.
- Oral copulation without the use of force can also be charged as a felony under Penal Code 288a, with or without a minor.
- Arranging to meet with a minor for lewd purposes is considered a misdemeanor under Penal Code 288.4.
- Acts of penetration with a foreign object can be charged as a misdemeanor under Penal Code 289 and in some felony cases (specifically, subsections c, f, g, h i of Penal Code 289).
- Child pornography is considered a misdemeanor under Penal Code 311.1 and 311.11.
- Indecent exposure is a criminal offense under Penal Code 314.
- Annoying a child is a criminal offense under Penal Code 647.6 as a first offense.
Sex Offender Registry Tier 2 (20-Year Registration, 10 years for a juvenile conviction)
Individuals classified under Tier 2 are required to register as sex offenders for a minimum of 20 years, or 10 years if they were a minor at the time of the offense. Starting July 1, 2021, individuals who have completed the minimum registration period of 20 years as a sex offender may petition for removal from the registry.
Tier 2 covers mid-level felony sex offenses that are not classified under Tier 1 or Tier 3. Examples of Tier 2 crimes:
- Incest (Penal Code 285)
- Oral copulation (former Penal Code 288a)
- Acts of penetration with a foreign object (Penal Code 289 (b))
- A second separate conviction for annoying a child for sexual purposes (Penal Code 647.6)
Tier Two Level Crimes Include:
- Incest is a criminal offense according to Penal Code 285.
- Penal Code 261 states that it is considered rape when the victim is at least 18 years old and cannot give consent due to a mental disorder, developmental disability, or physical incapacity.
- Penal Code 286 defines sodomy as any sexual act involving oral or anal sex when the victim is unable to give legal consent due to a mental disorder, developmental disability, or physical incapacity. If the victim is under 14 years old and at least 10 years younger than the defendant, engaging in sodomy is a criminal offense, even if there is no force involved.
- Lewd acts with a minor under 14 years old are prohibited under Penal Code 288.
- Penal Code 288a makes oral copulation a criminal offense when the victim cannot legally give consent due to a mental disorder, developmental disability, or physical incapacity. Engaging in oral copulation with a minor under the age of 14 who is at least 10 years younger than the defendant is also considered a criminal offense, regardless of whether there is force or not.
- Penal Code 288.3 prohibits contacting a minor with the intention of committing a felony, specifically those mentioned in subdivisions (b) of Penal Code 286, (b) of Penal Code 288a, or (h) or (i) of Penal Code 289.
- Penal Code 289 prohibits acts of penetration with a foreign object when the victim cannot legally give consent due to a mental disorder, developmental disability, or physical incapacity. It is also considered a criminal offense if the act is committed against the victim’s will using threats of future retaliation against the victim or any other person.
- Annoying a child is a criminal offense according to Penal Code 647.6. It becomes a second or subsequent offense when the perpetrator has previously committed the same crime.
Sex Offender Registry Tier 3 (Lifetime Registration)
If you are found guilty of a Tier 3 offense, you are required to register as a sex offender for life, and you cannot petition the court to be removed from the sex offender registry.
Tier 3 covers what are considered the most serious sex offenses, including but not limited to:
- Possession of child pornography as a felony (Penal Code 311.11),
- Pandering or pimping of a minor (Penal Code 266h),
- And many forms of rape (Penal Code 261).
Tier Three Level Crimes Include:
- Committing murder during rape or forced sexual acts is a punishable offense under Penal Code 187.
- Kidnapping during the commission of rape or forced sexual acts can be charged as a separate offense under Penal Codes 207 and 209.
- Assault with intent to commit a felony (excluding mayhem) is an offense under Penal Code 220.
- Sex trafficking children is a crime when violating specified provisions of Penal Code 236.1.
- Felony sexual battery can be charged under PC 243.4(a), 243.4(c), or 243.4(d).
- Rape is a punishable offense under Penal Code 261 in most cases.
- Spousal rape by force is an offense under Penal Code 262
- Assisting or facilitating rape or acts of penetration with a foreign object is an offense under Penal Code 264.1.
- Pimping and pandering with a minor is a punishable offense under Penal Codes 266h and 266i, when violating specified provisions.
- Giving or transporting a child under 16 for a lewd purpose is a crime under Penal Code 266j.
- Transporting a minor for the purpose of prostitution is a punishable offense under Penal Code 267.
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child is a punishable offense under Penal Code 269.
- Lewd and lascivious conduct contributing to the delinquency of a minor is an offense under Penal Code 272.
- Sodomy committed in collaboration with another person or by force is a punishable offense under Penal Code 286, particularly when violating specified provisions.
- Lewd acts with a minor under 14 is a punishable offense under Penal Code 288(a), including cases of force, victimization of 14 or 15-year-old children by perpetrators at least 10 years older, and cases where the defendant is the caretaker of the child and the victim is dependent.
- Oral copulation by force or when the victim is unable to give consent is a punishable offense under Penal Code 288a, particularly when violating specified provisions.
- Sending harmful material to seduce a minor is a punishable offense under Penal Code 288.2.
- Contacting a minor with the intent to commit a felony is prohibited under Penal Code 288.3, except for specified provisions.
- Arranging to meet with a minor for lewd purposes is a punishable offense under Penal Code 288.4.
- Continuous sexual assault of a child is a punishable offense under Penal Code 288.5
- Sex acts against a child 10 or younger is a punishable offense under Penal Code 288.7.
- Acts of penetration with a foreign object by force or duress, when the victim is under 14 and more than 10 years younger than the defendant, or the victim is too intoxicated to consent, or the victim is unconscious is a punishable offense under Penal Code 289.
- Anyone deemed an above-average risk to the community at the time of release, according to the State Authorized Risk Assessment Tools for Sex Offenders (SARATSO) pursuant to PC 290.04, is punishable.
- Possession of child pornography is a felony offense under Penal Code 311.
- Soliciting someone to commit a sex crime is an offense under Penal Code 653f.
- Life imprisonment can be imposed under PC 667.61.
- A sentence of 15 to 25 years to life can be imposed under PC 667.61.
- Anyone considered a habitual sex offender pursuant to PC 667.71 is punishable.
How Does California’s Megan’s Law Work?
After reporting to your local law enforcement agency, your information is forwarded to the California Department of Justice (DOJ). California’s list of registered sex offenders is maintained by the Sex Offender Tracking Program at the DOJ for the purpose of public safety.
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains a list of registered sex offenders through the Sex Offender Tracking Program, which is made available to the public for safety purposes on the DOJ’s “Megan’s Law” website. However, whether your information will be publicly displayed on the site depends on the particular sex offense you were convicted of in California.
If your sex offender information appears online, regardless of the offense you were convicted of, it will typically include your:
- A photo
- Identifying information (such as your height/weight, eye color, tattoos or scars, and any known aliases)
- The offense(s) which subjected you to Penal Code 290 sex offender registration
- Year of conviction
- Year of release (from incarceration or commitment)
The appearance of your address online depends on:
- The specific sex crime for which you were convicted
- Your criminal history with respect to prior sex offenses
Information about registered sex offenders in California can be found on the Megan’s Law website, which is divided into two main categories. The first category shows the full address of the registered offender.
This group is reserved for those who:
- Are convicted of the most serious California sex offenses
- have been convicted of multiple sex offenses
Is It Possible To Be Removed From The Sex Offender Registration List?
The answer to this question, like many others related to Penal Code 290 registration, depends on the specific offense for which you were convicted. However, there are several options available to potentially clear your offender status.
One option for potentially clearing your offender status is to have your case dismissed through a process known as expungement, regulated by California expungement law under Penal Code 1203.4. Successfully completing probation is a requirement for this option. Although it removes the charge and conviction from your criminal record, the downside is that you would still need to register as a California sex offender.
This option is not available if you were convicted of
- Penal Code 286 (c) sodomy with a child
- Penal Code 288(c) lewd acts with a child under 15 whom you are at least 10 years older than
- Penal Code 288(a) oral copulation
- Penal Code 288.5 continuous sexual abuse of a child
- Penal Code 289(j) sexual penetration with a person under 14 whom you are at least 10 years older than
- Penal Code 261.5(d) statutory rape with a minor under 16 when charged as a felony.
Certificate Of Rehabilitation
An alternative method for removing your sex offender status is by seeking a California certificate of rehabilitation. Unlike expungement, obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation releases you from the obligation of registering under the Sex Offender Registration Act (Penal Code 290s). This means that you will no longer be required to register as a sex offender.
If you meet the following qualifications, you can submit an application for a California certificate of rehabilitation between seven to ten years after being released from custody, parole, or probation, whichever is earlier.
- Your case must have been expunged by the court.
- You have not been incarcerated after the dismissal of your case.
- You are not currently on probation for any other felony offense.
- You must be able to provide evidence that you have been living in California for a minimum of five years before submitting your application.
Similar to a California expungement, if you were found guilty of the offenses specified in the expungement section, a certificate of rehabilitation is not an option, with the exception of oral copulation.
A Governor’s Pardon
If you are a registered sex offender, a California Governor’s pardon is the most effective form of relief available. Even if you were found guilty of one of the previously mentioned offenses, the state’s Governor has the authority to release you from your obligation to register as a sex offender.
In cases where you do not qualify for a certificate of rehabilitation, you can apply directly to the Governor for relief. However, in order to be granted a Governor’s pardon (with rare exceptions), you must have a clean criminal record for a minimum of ten years after being released from:
It is important to bear in mind that failing to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 may diminish your likelihood of receiving the relief you are seeking. Relief is only granted to individuals who have fulfilled all of their obligations and have not committed any additional violations of the law.
If you have neglected to register as a sex offender, it is probable that a judge will issue:
- A bench warrant or
- An arrest warrant to address the violation
Tier One And Tier Two Offenders
As a reminder, individuals classified as Tier one offenders can file a petition to be removed from the sex offender registry on their next birthday, provided that they have completed ten (10) years on the registry. Similarly, individuals categorized as Tier two offenders or deemed to be of Tier three-risk assessment offenders may file a petition to be removed from the registry after they have completed twenty (20) years on the registry on their next birthday.
To file a petition, the offender must provide evidence of their current registration status along with the necessary forms. These forms must be submitted to the relevant court and delivered to the district attorney’s office in the jurisdiction where the offender was convicted.
If the district attorney decides to contest the petition, they may request a hearing. While the court has the discretion to deny the petition without a hearing, they must provide a justification for the denial and inform the offender of the next available date on which they may file a new petition.
|Sex offender whose petition to get off the registry was denied||Waiting time to re-petition|
|Tier I||1 to 5 years|
|Tier II||1 to 5 years|
|Tier III-Risk Assessment||3 to 5 years|
It’s important to note that if the offender has pending charges that could potentially alter their tier classification or increase their minimum registration period, the court will deny their petition. Additionally, the offender must not be incarcerated, on parole, on probation, or on supervised release at the time of their petition.
Failing To Register As A Sex Offender
Failing to register at any point constitutes a violation of your probation. In the event that you are incarcerated for this offense, it would make you ineligible for obtaining authorized relief from your registration obligation, or, at the very least, significantly delay the process.
In the case of a felony sex offense, not registering is also a felony and results in an extension of your registration period by three years. Similarly, for a misdemeanor sex offense, not registering is a misdemeanor and adds one year to your registration period.
Regardless of the offense classification, failing to register as a sex offender carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail. Furthermore, any subsequent violation of registration requirements will reset the clock on the period of time for which you are obligated to register.
Contact The Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys
If you or someone you care about has been accused of a sex offense, it’s important to act quickly to protect your future, as being required to register as a sex offender can have serious and long-lasting consequences. At Tabibnia Law Firm, our experienced sex crimes defense attorneys are available to provide skilled legal representation and support in this difficult time.
Our law firm has a proven track record of helping individuals accused of sex offenses fight the charges against them, and we may also be able to assist you in obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation or Governor’s Pardon to help you be removed from the registry.
With extensive experience in Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Beverly Hills, Ventura County, Riverside, San Fernando, San Bernardino County, Burbank, Santa Monica and Orange County, Cyrus Tabibnia, sex crimes defense attorneys is available to help no matter where you are located. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get the legal support you need to protect your future