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Changes to California’s Sex Offender Registration Law

Sex Offender write on sticky notes. Isolated on white table background

One of the most serious consequences of conviction for sex offenses in California is the sex offender registry. Anyone convicted of a serious sex crime must register as a sex offender. If they move, they have to update local law enforcement agencies while residing in the state or working in the state. Registration has an impact on where a convicted person can live, where they can work, what type of job or professional license they can obtain, as well as other consequences. Under current California law, sex offenders must register for life. Starting July 2021, 90 percent of California’s sex offenders will be eligible to petition the court to terminate life-long registration as a sex offender. 

In October 2017, former California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will drastically change how the state manages the California Sex Offender Registry. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2021. Read on for an explanation of the changes to come in 2021 under the new law, and contact an experienced Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense lawyer to prepare for the coming changes.

Three-tiered system for sex offender registration

SB 384, signed into law on October 6, 2017, separates sex offender registrants into three different tiers depending on factors such as the severity of the underlying crimes and the defendant’s number of convictions. Under the new law, starting in 2021, the California Department of Justice will begin to determine the tier status of registrants. Registrants who satisfy their mandatory minimum requirements will then be able to petition their local county court to have their names removed from the sex offender registry.

The new law is meant to reserve California’s harshest punishment for serious, violent sex offenders, reduce costs for monitoring offenders who are at low risk of future crimes, and provide relief for those who were convicted of lesser, nonviolent crimes. Local law enforcement agencies estimate that they spend two-thirds of the money intended for supervising sex offenders on dealing with paperwork for low-risk offenders. Criminal justice advocates view the changes as a long-overdue overhaul of California’s sex offender registry system.

The three tiers are as follows:

Tier 1. A Tier 1 offender is subject to registration for ten years after being released from prison or completing probation. Tier 1 includes offenders convicted of sex offenses that were either a misdemeanor or a felony but which were not considered serious or violent.

Tier 2. Tier 2 offenders are subject to registration for a minimum of 20 years. Tier 2 crimes include mid-level felonies not included in Tiers 1 or 3, including but not limited to: sex acts with people unable to consent; incest; oral copulation; penetration with a foreign object; and lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under age 14.

Tier 3. Tier 3 requires sex offender registration for life. Tier 3 offenders are not eligible to have their names removed at any time. Tier 3 is reserved for the most serious and violent offenses, including but not limited to: child pornography, murder or kidnapping in connection with a felony sex offense, pimping or pandering of a minor, and many forms of rape.

If you are a convicted sex offender and you have finished your mandatory years on the registry, contact a dedicated California criminal defense attorney to determine your eligibility to have your name removed. Your attorney can help you file your petition and argue against any objections that law enforcement may have against ending your time on the registry.

The Law Offices of John D. Lueck is a trusted Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense law firm with more than 43 years of service to clients in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. These cases are highly sensitive and require experienced representation to ensure your rights are protected. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a crime, contact Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense lawyer John D. Lueck at 909-484-1963 for a free consultation.

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