In California under Penal Code 290, offenders convicted of specific sexual crimes must register with local law enforcement. Registrants are listed on the California Sex and Arson Registry (CSAR), a statewide database maintaining information on registered sex offenders. The registry assists law enforcement and provides information to the public through Megan’s Law.
Prior to January 1, 2021, sex offenders faced lifetime registry requirements. Since that date and the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 384, convictions for most offenses do not include a lifetime registration requirement. A tiered system is the current basis for the duration an offender must remain on the registry.
How Do I Get Off the California Sex Offender Registry?
Your removal from the registry depends on several factors, including the exact offense for which you were convicted.
Tier 1 and 2 Offenders
Tier 1 and 2 offenders can petition the court to terminate their mandatory registration when they have fulfilled their minimum requirement of 10 or 20 years, respectively, on or after their birthday of that year. Juveniles can petition after their minimum 5 or 10-year registration period.
The court has the right to grant or deny the petition.
Certificate of Rehabilitation
Offenders may qualify to apply for a California certificate of rehabilitation 7 to 10 years after being released from custody or from probation or parole requirements. To qualify,
- Your case must have been expunged by the court under Penal Code §1203.4. This can occur if the court dismisses your charges upon your completion of probation and results in the expungement of the criminal charge and conviction from your record.
- You must not have been incarcerated since the expungement of your case
- You must not be on probation for any other felony offenses
- You can prove California residence during the five years prior to your application.
Not all offenses are eligible for expungement and the laws and proceedings surrounding expungement are complicated. It is in your best interest to seek legal advice before proceeding with any applications.
The California governor has the power to pardon you, releasing you from incarceration, probation, parole, and registration requirements.
If you do not qualify to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation, you can apply to the governor for a pardon. The governor’s pardon is generally only awarded to those with at least ten years of lawful behavior, and who have successfully met the requirements of their punishment, including yearly registration.
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How Do I Register as a Sex Offender?
Offenders convicted of sex crimes requiring registration on the CSAR must personally register their address with local law enforcement within a specific timeframe. Those required to register must do so within five days of their sentencing (if they were given jail or prison time) or their release from jail, prison, hospital, or mental health facility.
Following this initial registration, offenders must continue to register with law enforcement every year, within five days of their birthday. If they move, within five days of moving into their new residence, offenders must register with local law enforcement.
Other factors may bring additional registration requirements. For example, lack of a permanent home, a court designation as a violent sexual predator, or enrollment or employment at a California college, university, vocational school, or other institution of higher education.
How Does the Registry’s Tiered System Work?
There are three tiers of registration requirements for adult offenders
- Tier 1: 10-year registration requirement for convictions of lowest-level sex crimes.
- Tier 2: 20-year lifetime requirement for mid-level convictions.
- Tier 3: Lifetime registration requirement for the most serious convictions.
There are two tiers for juvenile offenders:
- Tier 1: 5-year registration requirement for lower-level convictions
- Tier 2: 10- year registration requirement for lower-level convictions
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How Is the Public Made Aware of My Registry Status?
After you register your information with law enforcement, it is sent to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) which maintains the list of registrants.
Through the DOJ’s Megan’s Law website, your information, including your name, photo, identifying information, and offense, is made available to the public online. Your address may also be included depending on the nature of your crime and your history of sexual offense convictions. There are some exclusions to Megan’s Law that depend on the offense committed.
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If I Have Fulfilled My Minimum Requirement, Do I Still Have to Register?
You must register until the court formally relieves you of the requirement by granting your petition. If you fail to register, you may be subject to further prosecution. Further, should your petition be denied and you apply on a future date, the court will not look favorably on your failure to register.
What Happens if I Do Not Register?
Failing to register as a sex offender when you have been required to by the court is a criminal offense. Usually, the offender will face misdemeanor charges if the underlying sexual offense was a misdemeanor and a felony if the underlying sexual offense was a felony.
The misdemeanor offense brings a penalty of up to one year in jail, while the felony conviction can bring up to three years. If you fail to register, it is likely a judge will issue a bench warrant, which allows law enforcement to arrest you and bring you directly to court.
How Can a California Sex Offender Lawyer Help Me?
Sexual offenses are serious crimes. Being listed as a sex offender and having such crimes on your record has a major impact on your life. You can lose educational and employment opportunities, and face restrictions on where you can live and where and when you can go.
By retaining the services of a California sex offender registry lawyer, you will have the guidance of an expert in sex offender laws and registry terms who will ensure you file petitions accurately, represent you at court proceedings, and may be able to have your record expunged.
Your best chance of having your name removed from the registry is to have a skilled, experienced lawyer manage your case. Reach out to a California sex offender registry lawyer today.