Sex Offender Registration - SB 384

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Sex Offender Registration in California – Senate Bill 384

California’s sex offender registry rules have changed. The state has abandoned its lifetime registration requirement in favor of a tiered system. The Sex Offender Registration Act, which is also known as Senate Bill 384, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 6, 2017. The law became effective on January 1, 2018.

Under the new law, sex offenders will be placed into one of three tiers. Placement will depend on (a) the crime and (b) the risk of re-offending. The most serious sex crimes will still require lifetime registration. However, relatively minor sex offenses may only require a person to register for a period of 10 or 20 years.

Why California Changed Its Sex Offender Registration Law

For years, California was one of four states in the country to require anyone convicted of a sex crime to register as a sex offender for life. Under this system, the punishment was the same regardless of the seriousness of the crime. Lifetime registration was mandatory, whether you were convicted of something minor like indecent exposure, or something more serious like forcible rape of a child. As a result, California’s sex offender registry list became bloated and cumbersome over the years. By 2018, there were 105,000 registered sex offenders in the state of California.

The sex offender registry is intended to be a resource for law enforcement in California. It can be used to generate leads and identify possible suspects in sex crime investigations. However, law enforcement officials have confessed that the sheer number of people on the registry makes it difficult to use efficiently.

To make matters worse, most of the people on the registry were convicted of low-level offenses and haven’t committed a crime in years. Police and law enforcement agencies tend to spend most of their time completing paperwork for and focusing on these low-level offenders. This prevents them from spending time focused on high-risk and potentially dangerous offenders.

The old sex offender registration system was unfair to low-level offenders and detrimental to law enforcement in California. The new law provides a better framework for punishing those convicted of sex crimes. Rather than being required to register for life, most convicted of sex crimes will be required to register for 10 or 20 years.

Tiered Sex Offender Registry

California, like most other states, now uses a tiered sex offender registration system. Instead of automatically being required to register for life, all convicted sex offenders will be placed into one of three tiers. The minimum amount of a time you will have to register as a sex offender will depend on the tier in which you are placed.

How is tier placement determined? Factors include:

  • The crime
  • Risk of re-offending, and
  • Habitual offender.

There are three sex offender tiers in California:

Tier 1: Tier 1 is reserved for individuals convicted of relatively-minor sex crimes. This includes most misdemeanors and some non-violent felonies. The minimum registration requirements for Tier 1 offenders is 10 years.

Tier 2: Tier 2 is reserved for individuals convicted of moderately-serious sex crimes and/or those convicted of a second sex offense. This includes violent misdemeanors and some felonies. The minimum registration requirements for Tier 2 offenders is 20 years.

Tier 3: Reserved for individuals convicted of the most serious and reprehensible sex crimes in California. Tier 3 carries a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender.

Tier 1 Sex Offenders

You may be classified as a Tier 1 sex offender if you are convicted of any of the following crimes:

  • Misdemeanor sexual battery
  • Felony sexual battery of a disabled victim
  • Luring a child into a house of prostitution
  • Procuring sex by fraud
  • Misdemeanor and/or felony sodomy
  • Misdemeanor and/or felony oral copulation
  • MIsdemeanor and/or felony penetration with a foreign object
  • Misdemeanor meeting with a minor for lewd purposes
  • Misdemeanor possession or distribution of child pornography
  • Misdemeanor indecent exposure, or
  • Misdemeanor annoying a child (first offense).

The minimum registration requirement for a Tier 1 offender is 10 years. Crimes involving children, violence, or force may be punished more harshly.

Tier 2 Sex Offenders

You may be classified as a Tier 2 sex offender if you are convicted of any of the following crimes:

  • Incest
  • Rape, where victim is an adult and incapable of giving consent
  • Sodomy, where victim is incapable of giving consent
  • Sodomy, where the victim is under the age of 14
  • Oral copulation, where the victim is incapable of giving consent
  • Oral copulation, where the victim is under the age of 14
  • Lewd acts with a child under 14
  • Contacting a minor to commit felony sodomy, oral copulation, or forcible penetration
  • Penetration with a foreign object, where the victim is incapable of giving consent
  • Penetration with a foreign object accomplished using force, fear, or intimidation, or
  • Annoying a child (subsequent offense).

You may also be classified as a Tier 2 offender if this is your second conviction and/or you are deemed to be a risk to re-offend. The minimum registration requirement for a Tier 1 offender is 20 years. The 20-year timeframe will be paused if you are convicted of another crime during that period. The clock will begin to run again once you have completed your criminal sentence.

Tier 3 Sex Offenders

You may be classified as a Tier 2 sex offender if you are convicted of any of the following crimes:

  • Rape
  • Sex trafficking of children
  • Felony sexual battery
  • Pimping and pandering with a minor
  • Aggravated sexual assault of a child
  • Forcible sodomy
  • Lewd acts with a child under 14
  • Oral copulation by force
  • Seducing a child using harmful material
  • Forcible penetration with a foreign object of a minor, and
  • Soliciting another to commit a sex crime.

Most crimes involving minors under the age of 14, force, fraud, and violence will be categorized as Tier 3 offenses. You may also be categorized as a Tier 3 offender if:

  • You have been sentenced to life in prison
  • Your sentence has been aggravated because of prior strike offenses and/or violent convictions
  • You are considered to be a habitual sex offender, or
  • You are assessed to be high-risk for re-offending.

Removal From the Sex Offender Registry Is Not Automatic

The new mandates mandatory minimum timeframes for which convicted sex offenders must register with the state. If you are a Tier 1 offender you must register for a minimum of 10 years. If you are a Tier 2 offender you must register for a minimum of 20 years. However, you are not automatically removed from the registry once 10 years have passed. You must file a petition with the state to terminate your status as a sex offender.

Once your petition is received, the state has 60 days to review your request. This request can be approved if you have not been convicted of another crime and have successfully complied with all sex offender registration requirements. Successful compliance means that you:

  • Registered with the state within 5 days of release from detention
  • Updated your registration annually
  • Notified the state whenever you moved, got a new job, or spent a significant period of time in one place, and
  • Disclose your status as a sex offender to all necessary parties.

The state also has the authority to request a hearing if they believe you still pose a threat to society or if the conditions of registration have not been satisfied. After the hearing, your request to terminate your status as a sex offender can be granted or denied.

No one, including individuals who have been subject to lifetime registration under the old law, may file a petition to remove themselves from the registry until January 2021.

Need Help?

Once you are convicted of a sex crime in California your life will change forever. Even though you may no longer have to register for life, the consequences of being a registered offender are still incredibly harsh. The best way to protect yourself from being required to register as a sex offender is to aggressively fight criminal charges. At the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, our San Diego criminal defense lawyers can help you protect your future. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.

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