SB 384: New Laws For Sex Offenders Registration

The governor of California recently passed a new law in 2017 that takes effect on January 1st, 2020. SB 384 will change the current system of lifelong sex offender registration to a tier-based system that would allow eligible offenders to be removed from the sex offender list. The new bill benefits past offenders who want to stop being labeled as a sex offender.

How the current system works

California first introduced sex offender registration in 1947. The law required people convicted of sex crimes to pre-register with their local law enforcement agency. California is just one of a handful of states with a mandatory registration system for convicted sex offenders. Under the current system, all people convicted of a sex crime must register as a sex offender, no matter the seriousness of the crime.  

As a result, people convicted of minor offenses like indecent exposure are often lumped together with people convicted of serious crimes like rape. This flooded the sex offender database to the point that it hindered law enforcement from effectively using the system. 

As of 2018, there were 105,000 registered offenders in California alone. But that’s not even the worst part; most of the registered sex offenders were convicted for minor offenses. Suffice to say, the system was heavily flawed because it intended to focus on major offenders but was heavily biased against low-level offenders.

 What does SB 384 change?

When sex offenders register with law enforcement, the details are added to the California Sex and Arson Registry (CSAR)  database, which helps authorities track and monitor sex offenders. Once registered, the convicted sex offender must renew this registration every year within five days of the birthday or a residence change. Members of the public can also access selected information from a separate database. The new tier-based system coming in January 1st, 2021, will replace the current lifetime based system. Here are the major highlights:

  • Sex offenders will be registered under any three tiers for 10 years, 20 years, or life
  • Juvenile sex offenders will only register for a minimum of five or 10 years
  •  Tier 1 or Tier 2  offenders will be removed from the database upon completing their term AND a successful petition.

With the new law, low-level sex offenders can apply to have their names removed from the CSAR  and Megan’s Law databases. However, this doesn’t translate to an automatic dismissal. Like all legal procedures, registered offenders will still have to petition the court for this dismissal, which is not guaranteed. The final decision will rest in the hands of the court.

How is the tier system defined?

The different tiers are categorized according to three main factors; the nature of the crime, a habitual offender, and the risk of recidivism (re-offending). Tier 1 category is reserved for low-level offenses like most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. The minimum period of registration is 10 years. Tier 2 offenders will be convicted of moderately severe sex crimes like violent misdemeanors, some felonies, and repeat offenses. The minimum registration period for Tier 2 offenders is 20 years. Finally, Tier 3 will be reserved for offenders convicted of the most serious sexual offenses. Tier 3 offenders will have to register with CSAR and the Megan’s Law database for life.A sex crime conviction is a life-changing event. Not only will you have to serve the penalties, but you’ll also have to live with the fact that everyone sees you as a predator. The best way to guard yourself against a lifetime of being labeled and ostracized as a sex offender is to fight these charges tooth and nail. Criminal Defense Hero is the firm you need to protect your reputation. Call us now at +3235293660 and schedule your first consultation.

The Criminal Defense Hero Attorney Don Hammond


Get Attorney Don Hammond’s published book “Sexual Assault Record, What Next? A Primer for the Accused" for free today.