California Sex Offender Registration Changes in California

California Sex Offender Registration Changes in California

California Sex Offender Registration Changes in 2021

As of January 1, 2021, California’s sex offender registration laws have changed. Under Penal Code 290, the law in California requires that those convicted of certain sex crimes must register with the state as a sex offender. If convicted as a sex offender, they must register with their local law enforcement agency each year within five days of their birthday, and if they move residences, within five days of moving. There may also be residency restrictions placed on convicted sex offenders under this code.

New Three-Tier System for Sex Offender Registration

Senate Bill No. 384, passed in 2017 and effective in 2021, created a three-tiered registration system for sex offenders, replacing the lifetime sex offender registration requirement. Most sex offenses no longer require lifetime registration. The tier system is as follows:

  • Tier One: this tier of sex crimes requires that the sex offender register for at least 10 years. This tier exists for persons who are convicted of the lowest level of sex offenses, such as misdemeanor sexual battery or indecent exposure.
  • Tier Two: this tier of sex crimes requires that the sex offender register for at least 20 years. This tier exists for persons who are convicted of mid-level sex offenses, such as lewdness with a minor under age 14, and non-forced sodomy with a minor under age 14.
  • Tier Three: this tier of sex crimes requires that the sex offender register for their lifetime. This tier exists for those who are convicted of the most serious sex offenses, such as rape, lewdness with a minor by force or fear, sex trafficking of children, sex crimes against children ages 10 and younger, and repeated sex crimes.

How Do Tier One and Tier Two Sex Offenders Get Removed from the Registry?

After a Tier One or Tier Two sex offender has fulfilled their mandated time on California’s sex offender registry, their removal is not automatic. Every Tier One and Tier Two registrant must petition the court for removal at the end of their 10- or 20-year registration period. The court has the option of denying the registrant’s petition. The District Attorney can also request a hearing to oppose the petition. If the registrant is convicted of another crime, the 10- and 20-year waiting periods are tolled during a period of subsequent imprisonment.

What Sex Crimes are Now Up to A Judge’s Discretion Whether or Not You Must Register?

Upon the passage of California Senate Bill 145 in 2020, certain crimes may or may not require the defendant to register as a sex offender, depending upon a judge’s discretion. These crimes are:

  • Sodomy
  • Oral copulation of a child
  • Penetration by foreign object

Judges will usually base their discretion upon certain factors of the sex crime, including whether the defendant is 10 or more years older than the child, and whether the child is at least 14 years old.

What Other Crimes Require Registration in California?

The above-mentioned crimes are not the only ones that, if convicted, will require that you register as a sex offender in California. Even if a crime is not listed in the Sex Offender Registration Act, and a judge believes that you acted upon sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification in the commission of that crime, they may order you to register as a sex offender for any offense you commit.

What Happens If I Don’t Register as a Sex Offender in California?

If you fail to register as a sex offender in California under Penal Code 290, a judge will issue a bench warrant or arrest warrant to address your violation of the code. Failure to register is also a violation of your probation. If you are incarcerated for your offense, you will not be able to obtain relief from your obligation to register.