California law requires people who have been convicted of certain crimes to be listed on the California sex offender registry.
The purpose of this registry is twofold: Firstly, it serves as an essential tool for law enforcement officials that allows them to locate offenders when necessary. Secondly, it serves as a public safety resource that provides information on sex offenders to the general public.
Sex offenders must update their registration annually within 5 days of their birthday to remain in compliance with the law. Failure to do so can result in further criminal charges.
For those required to register as sex offenders, this guide will cover the basics of the sex offender registry and its requirements.
- What is the CA sex offender registry?
- How does California’s Megan’s Law work?
- What are the reporting requirements for sex offenders in California?
- Is registration on the Megan’s Law website mandatory?
- How do I find my local law enforcement agency?
- What happens if I forget to register or renew my registration?
- Can registered sex offenders be removed from the registry?
- What is California Senate Bill SB-145?
- Work with a skilled Los Angeles sex crimes defense attorney
What is the CA sex offender registry?
The California sex offender registry is a database of people who have been convicted of certain sex crimes like rape, child molestation and production of child pornography. The registry allows the public to view information about registered offenders in their area, including name, address, photo, physical description and criminal history.
The registry was established by California Penal Code PC 290, also known as the California Sex Offender Registration Act, or “Megan’s Law.” The law was named after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old girl who was raped and murdered by a known sex offender in New Jersey, and it requires the California Department of Justice to notify citizens of certain details about registered sex offenders.
You can find the official California Megan’s Law website and the California sex offender registry database at https://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/.
How does California’s Megan’s Law work?
Under California’s Megan’s Law, convicted sex offenders must register with the local law enforcement agency annually within 5 days of their birthday. They are required to provide information such as their name, address, physical description and criminal history. Some offenders may also be subject to GPS tracking or community notification.
The registry is open to the public, so anyone can search for registered sex offenders in their area. This is intended to help promote public safety by allowing people to be aware of potentially dangerous individuals in their area.
The California sex offender registration system has three tiers:
- Tier 1 (low-risk offenders): Must register for 10 years
- Tier 2 (moderate-risk offenders): Must register for 20 years
- Tier 3 (high-risk offenders): Must register for life
Tier one sex offenses (10 year registration)
Among the crimes that require tier one registration are:
- Sexual battery
- Arranging to meet a minor for lewd purposes
- Oral copulation with a minor over 14 years old
- Misdemeanor child pornography
- Indecent exposure
Tier two sex offenses (20 year registration)
Sex crimes that rise to the level of tier two offenses are:
Tier three sex offenses
Tier three status typically applies to the most serious crimes:
- Murder during commission of a rape
- Sex trafficking
- Rape by force
- Oral copulation by force
- Felony child pornography
It’s important to note that the crimes limited above aren’t exhaustive of all of the crimes that could mandatory registration. In fact, a judge may require someone to register as a sex offender for any crime if the judge feels it was committed out of sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification.
What are the reporting requirements for sex offenders in California?
In California, offenders are required to register annually within 5 days of their birthday. They must provide basic information such as name, address, physical description and criminal history.
For registered offenders who move out of state or into a new county in California, they must inform the local law enforcement agency of their new address within 5 working days.
There might also be additional reporting requirements imposed by the sex offender’s city.
Beyond the basics, registration requirements can vary based on a few different factors:
- If the sex offender is a transient
- If the judge declares the sex offender a sexually violent predator
- If the sex offender is employed or enrolled at an institution of higher education
Anytime a sex offender moves, they must update their registration information with the local law enforcement agency within five working days of the move.
As well, the registry also includes restrictions on where someone may live.
If a registered sex offender is a transient, meaning that they do not have a permanent residence, then they are required to register every 30 days.
Sexually violent predators
If a judge determines that a sex offender is a sexually violent predator, then the offender will be required to register every 90 days.
Employment or enrollment at an institution of higher learning
If a registered sex offender is employed or enrolled at an institution of higher education, they must notify local law enforcement and the college/university within five working days of enrolling or leaving the university.
Changing your name
If a sex offender has changed their name, then they are required to register the change within 5 working days.
Is registration on the Megan’s Law website mandatory?
Even if they haven’t completed their minimum registration, a sex offender might be able to have their name removed from the California Sex offender registry website.
This can be done by submitting a Megan’s Law exclusion form if a person:
- Was convicted of sexual battery by restraint, or
- Annoying or molesting a child, or
- If they obtained a certificate of rehabilitation or expungement (more on these concepts below)
How do I find my local law enforcement agency?
In order to register, you must contact the local law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction that you reside in. You can find your local law enforcement agency by visiting https://post.ca.gov/le-agencies and searching for your city or county.
Once you have located the appropriate office, they will provide guidance on the registration process and your specific requirements.
What happens if I forget to register or renew my registration?
Failure to register or renew your registration as a sex offender is a felony in California. If you fail to register, you may be subject to arrest and prosecution under Penal Code 290 PC. Additionally, the court may impose additional jail time, fines and probationary terms for failing to comply with registration requirements.
It’s important that all registered sex offenders take their duty to register very seriously and make sure that they are staying compliant with all of the laws governing them.
Can registered sex offenders be removed from the registry?
In some cases, a registered sex offender may be able to have their name removed from the California Sex Offender Registry.
A person can be removed through either obtaining of a certificate of rehabilitation, expungement or governor’s pardon. A certificate of rehabilitation may restore the civil rights of an individual convicted of certain crimes, while an expungement sets aside a criminal conviction and allows the convictions to not appear on most background checks.
It is important to note that these two processes do not guarantee removal from the registry, though they will help in making it more likely for someone to become eligible for removal.
Certificate of rehabilitation
A court may grant a certificate of rehabilitation to an individual who has completed their sentence and demonstrated that they have been rehabilitated, meaning they have lived an honest and upright life since the conviction.
An expungement is a court-ordered procedure that sets aside a criminal conviction and allows the individual to have their criminal record sealed. This means that when an employer or other individual runs a background check, the conviction will not appear on it.
A governor’s pardon can also be granted to an individual convicted of a crime, which in some cases may make them eligible for removal from the sex offender registry.
It is important to note that each of these processes has its own requirements and it is recommended that individuals seeking removal from the sex offender registry consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure they are complying with all necessary steps.
What is California Senate Bill SB-145?
Senate Bill SB-145 (SB-145) is a California law that permits judges to decide whether or not to require mandatory registration on the Megan’s Law website for those convicted of certain sex offenses. Those offenses are:
- Oral copulation with a minor
- Penetration with a foreign object
The law allows the judge to take into consideration factors such as age, prior criminal history and whether or not the person poses a risk of reoffending. This determination will be made during sentencing and can result in an individual being removed from the list or remaining registered, depending on what decision is made by the court.
Work with a skilled Los Angeles sex crimes defense attorney
If you are facing criminal charges involving any of the above sex offenses, it is important to work with a skilled Los Angeles sex crimes defense attorney. An experienced attorney can help you understand all of your rights and options.
Your attorney will also be able to assist you with navigating the process of registering as a sex offender if necessary and ensuring that you remain compliant with all registration requirements. They can also provide guidance on attempting to have your name removed from the registry, should you become eligible.
For more information about California’s Sex Offender Registration laws, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Robert M. Helfend for your free consultation – 800-834-6434.