2021 California Sex Offender Registration Law Changes

In California, the Sex Offender Registration Act required that all sex offenders register with the state and national sex offender database. This registration involved informing the local authorities of the defendant’s following information:

  • Current and former legal names and aliases
  • Social security number
  • Phone numbers
  • Physical description
  • Physical address
  • Email addresses
  • Social media accounts
  • Online names or personas
  • Employer name and address
  • Professional licenses
  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle information
  • School details
  • Criminal record
  • Recent photo
  • DNA, fingerprints, and palm prints

These registration requirements can be strenuous and leave a permanent scarlet letter on reformed offenders’ reputations. Fortunately, with the enactment of Senate Bill 384, this has been remedied to an appreciable extent.

Previous Registration Requirements

Upon conviction of certain sex crimes in California, offenders were required to submit the above information at consistent intervals. These intervals would be as short as thirty days, and they were required to do this for the rest of their lives. Failure to register as a sex offender and present such information to the relevant authorities can result in additional sentences and convictions.

The Changes Brought About by the Senate Bill 384

Senate Bill 384 came into law in January 2021. But those on the sex offender registry could not, upon fulfilling the requisite conditions, file a petition until after July 2021.

The new system places the offender under three tiers based on the specific crime they were convicted of and their probability of being habitual offenders. The classification of these tiers is also based on the minimum registration period during which an offender’s records are to be maintained in the registry. After completing the required timeline, they can petition to have their name dropped from the registry. 

The three tiers include:

Tier 1

All offenders ought to register for at least ten years for low-level sex crimes. These crimes comprise of certain misdemeanor offenses such as procuring sex by fraud, indecent exposure, child pornography, and sexual battery. In juvenile court, the mandatory requirement is five years.

Tier 2

The second tier requires that sex offenders register for a minimum of twenty years for mid-level sex crimes such as lewd acts with a child below the age of fourteen. Conviction in a juvenile court will attract a mandatory requirement of ten years.

Tier 3

Offenders under this tier are required to register for life, and this applies to high-level sex crimes. Moreover, such offenders are not authorized to petition for the removal of their records. Examples of these high-level sex crimes are habitual sex offenders, sex trafficking, rape, felony, sexual battery, aggravated sexual assault of a minor, and pimping or pandering of a minor

As of the 1st of July 2021, offenders under tier one and tier two who had already satisfied their minimum registration requirements could begin to petition a Californian court for the removal of their records from the registry. They can do this on or after their next birthdays. For instance, if a tier two lawbreaker has been on the registry for a minimum of ten years and their birthday is September 22nd, then they can petition the court on or after the 22nd day of September.

Even after submitting the petition, an offender must continue to register with the relevant authorities until the court pronounces its decision on the application for removal. Generally, the court has sixty days to respond to the petition and may request reports on the offender’s case from the local law enforcement agency.

If one has not been convicted for a new crime since the first conviction and all the prerequisites of the sex offender registry have been met, the court may proceed to approve the petition and remove the offender from the registry.

Factors to Consider in Assessing Whether the Mandatory Requirement Period has Been Completed

Completion of the Mandatory Requirement Period

Section 290 of the Penal Code was amended by SB 384 by adding that the minimum time period for completing the required registration period in tiers one and two begins on the date of release from incarceration, placement, or commitment, including any related civil commitment.

Moreover, if a registrant has any other consequent period of incarceration, placement or commitment, including an ensuing civil commitment which leads to conviction, adjudication or revocation of probation or parole, then the least time for their completion of the required registration period will be trailed.

If a registrant is convicted of a misdemeanor failure to register as a sex offender, the minimum registration period shall be prolonged by one year for each misdemeanor conviction. This shall be done without considering the actual time served while in custody for the conviction.

If convicted of a felony for failure to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act, the minimum registration period shall be extended by three years for each felony conviction regardless of the time already served in custody.

Where an offender is convicted of another registerable offense under Section 290(e) of the Penal Code, the offender will be required to begin a new minimum registration period to complete the registration requirement for the appropriate tier. The new time period will start upon their release from incarceration, placement, or commitment, including any related civil commitment. Where the subsequent registerable conviction occurs prior to an order to remove the offender from the registry, the new minimum mandatory period of registration will be determined by the highest tier associated with the convictions.

With numerous changes to California’s Sex Offender Registry, it can be challenging to know which laws apply to you and how you can benefit from the change.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to have your record dropped from the registry! It is crucial to seek the help of an experienced law firm like Criminal Defense 290 Heroes to guide you through the process. We have a strong record of defending individuals on the sex offender registry. Contact us today to book your first consultation.

The Criminal Defense Hero Attorney Don Hammond


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