Introduction

California’s Sex Offender Registration law is codified at California Penal Code sections 290 through 290.024.

Pursuant to this law, if you’ve been convicted of certain sex offenses, you’ll have to register with your local police chief, deputy, or campus police chief, depending on where you live in our state, for the duration of your mandatory registration period.

Specifically, every year, within five business days of your birthday, or within five business days of moving residences, you’ll have to provide your (new) residence address, place of employment, and other pertinent information. See Sex Offender Registration requirements at California Penal Code section 290.

If you fail to do so, you can be charged with a felony. See Sex Offender Registration Act: Penalties for Violation (California Penal Code section 290.018).

If you are required to register, then much if not most of the relevant information pertaining to your conviction will appear on the California Department of Justice’s “Megan’s Law” website (discussed below).

In addition, certain sex-crime convictions will restrict where you are allowed to live (e.g., nowhere near a school).

And again, whenever you change residences, you’ll have to register anew with the LAPD or Sheriff’s Department if you’re an Angeleno. See California Penal Code section 290.013.

If you’ve been convicted of a sex crime by using force or threats, and you suffer from what the court believes is a dangerous pathology, you’ll be considered a “sexually-violent predator”, as defined in California Penal Code section 290.012. This same classification is also defined at California Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600.

Sexually violent predators are required to register anew every three months. Id.

California Senate Bill SB-384 and Three Tiers of Sex Registration

Prior to the enactment of SB-384 on Jan. 1, 2021, Californians convicted of most sex crimes were required to register for their entire lives. See: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.

Now, however, most convicted sex offenders are classified under the following three separate tiers.

Tier One Sex Registration

If you are considered a Tier One offender, you’ll have to register for a minimum of a decade. This tier is reserved for the second-lowest level of sex offenders (with the lowest not being required to register). These include the following convictions:

misdemeanor Sexual Battery (California Penal Code section 243.4); and

Indecent Exposure (California Penal Code section 314).

Tier Two Sex Registration

Tier Two offenders have to register for at least two decades. Such mid-level sex offenses include:

Lewd Acts with a Minor Child Under 14 (California Penal Code section 288);

Sodomy with Person Under 14 (California Penal Code section 286(c)(1)).

Tier Three Sex Registration

Tier Three requires lifetime registration and, of course, entails you being convicted of the most serious or violent sex crimes, such as:

Forcible Rape (California Penal Code section 261);

Human Trafficking (“Sex Trafficking”) of Minors (California Penal Code section 236.1);

Engaging in Sexual Intercourse or Sodomy with Child 10 Years of Age or Younger (California Penal Code section 288.7(a));

Engaging in Oral Copulation or Sexual Penetration with Child 10 Years of Age or Younger (California Penal Code section 288.7(b));

In addition, you’ll be considered a Tier Three offender if the court finds that you are a “habitual sex offender” under California Penal Code section 667.71;

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the court has the discretion to require you to register for any sex crime, even if it’s only a misdemeanor, even if it’s not explicitly identified in the Sex Offender Registration Act

So long as your sentencing judge finds that the crime you were convicted of resulted from sexual compulsion or gratification, he or she has the power to categorize you under one of the three tiers. See California Penal Code section 290.006.

More specifically, since the passage of California Senate Bill SB-145 in 2020, the court now has the discretion to waive sex registration if you were no more than a decade older than the victim, and he/she was at least fourteen when the following offenses occurred:

Sodomy (California Penal Code section 286);

Oral Copulation with a Minor (California Penal Code section 287);

Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object (California Penal Code section 289).

Of course, none of these convictions can involve force or threats for you to be eligible for non-registration.

Removal from the Sex Offender Registry

Unlike when you complete a probation period, if you are a Tier One or Tier Two registerable sex offender, you’ll have to petition the court to remove you from the state’s registry once your ten or twenty-year period is up. Further, the Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted you can oppose your petition.

Also keep in mind that if you’re convicted of any sex crime during your registration period, that initial period will be paused, meaning that it’ll start over from the date of the new conviction. And, of course, if the new conviction carries a longer registration period, then that will control how long you’re in the registry.

Certificate of Rehabilitation

You can also get removed from the Megan’s Law website by successfully petitioning the court for this certificate. See California Penal Code section 290.5. Unfortunately, however, you won’t be eligible for this certificate until at least 7 years after you complete your prison sentence (if any), your parole term (same), or probation term (same).

Alternatively, you can be eligible upon expungement of your criminal conviction. See California Penal Code section 1203.4.

To do so, you’ll also have to establish that you’ve lived in California for at least five years prior to your application. See California Penal Code section 4852.01.

Megan’s Law Website

As stated above, our state’s Dept. of Justice manages the “Megan’s Law” website, which works like this: As soon as you initially report your personal info as a sex offender to LAPD or LASD, that agency will then provide it to the Dept. of Justice, which then inputs it into its Sex Offender Tracking Program. Once that happens, your info gets uploaded to the Megan’s Law website.

Thereon, your home address will appear if you’ve been convicted of a particularly egregious sex crime, or if you’ve been classified either as a violent sexual predator or a habitual sex offender by the court. See California Penal Code section 290.46.

Such egregious sex crimes include the following:

Aggravated Kidnapping – Robbery, Rape, Other Sex Offenses (California Penal Code section 209(b));

Forcible Rape (California Penal Code section 261);

Oral Copulation with a Minor (California Penal Code section 287);

Lewd Acts with a Minor Child Under 14 (California Penal Code section 288);

Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Minor (California Penal Code section 269);

Assault with Intent to Commit Rape (California Penal Code section 220(a)(1)); and

Sodomy of an Unconscious Person (California Penal Code section 286(f)).

Alternatively, if you don’t fit into any of the foregoing categories, and the court requires you to register, then only your residential zip code – as opposed to the entire street address – will be displayed on the website. See California Penal Code section 290.46(d).

These less egregious crimes include the following:

felony Sexual Battery of a Restrained Victim (California Penal Code section 243.4(a)); and

Unlawful Consensual Sex with a Minor (“Statutory Rape”) (California Penal Code section 261.5).

If you fall into a gray area, your attorney can petition the court to have you excluded from the website upon a showing of good cause. For example, you might qualify for exclusion if you were convicted of the following:

Sexual Battery (California Penal Code section 243.4);

misdemeanor (first offense) Annoying or Molesting a Child Under 18 (California Penal Code section 647.6);

Indecent Exposure (California Penal Code section 314); and

“Peeking While Loitering” (“Peeping Tom” law) (California Penal Code section 647(i)).

However, to qualify, you’ll have to establish that you successfully completed your probation, including all terms required thereunder, or at the very least that you are close to doing so. See Offender Registration and Exclusion Information.

Sex Crimes – Registration Requirements – Specific Convictions

Again, pursuant to California’s Sex Offender Registration Act (California Penal Code section 290), you’ll be required to register under the following tiers if you’ve been convicted of the following crimes (though the lists below aren’t exclusive or comprehensive):

Tier One (at least a decade of mandatory registration):

misdemeanor Sexual Battery (California Penal Code section 243.4);

felony Sexual Battery of a Restrained Victim (California Penal Code section 243.4(a));

felony Sexual Battery by Fraud (California Penal Code section 243.4(c));

misdemeanor Sodomy (California Penal Code section 286);

misdemeanor Oral Copulation (California Penal Code section 287(d);

misdemeanor Arranging Meeting with Minor for Lewd Purpose (California Penal Code section 288.4(a)(1));

misdemeanor Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object (California Penal Code section 289);

misdemeanor Possession of Child Pornography (California Penal Code section 311.11(a));

Indecent Exposure (California Penal Code section 314); and

Annoying a Child Under 18 (California Penal Code section 647.6).

Tier Two (at least two decades of mandatory registration):

Incest (California Penal Code section 285);

Sodomy with Person Under 14 (California Penal Code section 286(c)(1));

Lewd Acts with a Minor Child Under 14 (California Penal Code section 288);

Oral Copulation with a Minor Under 14 (California Penal Code section 287);

Contacting a Minor with the Intent to Commit a Lewd Act (California Penal Code section 288.3);

Forcible Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object (California Penal Code section 289); and

felony (at least second offense) Annoying or Molesting a Child Under 18 (California Penal Code section 647.6).

Tier Three (lifetime mandatory registration):

Aggravated Kidnapping – Robbery, Rape, Other Sex Offenses (California Penal Code section 209(b));

Human Trafficking (“Sex Trafficking”) of Minors (California Penal Code section 236.1);

felony Sexual Battery (California Penal Code section 243.4);

Rape/Forcible Rape (California Penal Code section 261);

Forcible Spousal/Marital Rape (California Penal Code section 262(a)(2));

“Gang Rape” (Forcible Rape Act in Concert) (California Penal Code section 264.1);

Forcible Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object (California Penal Code section 289);

“Pimping” of a Minor (California Penal Code section 266h);

“Pandering” of a Minor (California Penal Code section 266i);

Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Minor (California Penal Code section 269);

Lewd Acts with a Minor Child Under 14 (California Penal Code section 288);

Sodomy of an Unconscious Person (California Penal Code section 286(f));

Sodomy through Force, Violence, or Fear (California Penal Code section 286(c));

Oral Copulation by Force, Fear, or Threats (California Penal Code section 287);

Oral Copulation in Concert (California Penal Code section 287(d);

Sending Obscene Material to Seduce a Minor (California Penal Code section 288.2);

felony Going to Meeting with Minor for Lewd Purpose (California Penal Code section 288.4(b));

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child (California Penal Code section 288.5);

Engaging in Sexual Intercourse or Sodomy with Child 10 Years of Age or Younger (California Penal Code section 288.7(a));

Engaging in Oral Copulation or Sexual Penetration with Child 10 Years of Age or Younger (California Penal Code section 288.7(b));

Forcible Sexual Penetration of an Unconscious Person (California Penal Code section 289(d));

Sodomy with Person Under 14 (California Penal Code section 286(c)(1)); and

Classification as a Habitual Sex Offender (California Penal Code section 667.71).

California Statute – Sex Crimes -- Failing to Register as a Sex Offender -- Conviction

Punishments for failing to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act are set forth in California Penal Code section 290.018.

Specifically, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime as an adult, or of a felony sex offense as a juvenile, and you failed to register as required, then you will be charged with a misdemeanor that carries only a maximum of 12 months’ incarceration in jail. Penal Code section 290.018(a).

However, you will be charged with a felony and face sixteen, twenty-four, or thirty-six months in prison if you failed to register under any of the following circumstances:

  1. You were convicted of a felony sex offense as an adult;

  2. You were convicted of a felony sex offense as a juvenile and you intentionally failed to register;

  3. You were previously convicted of failing to register as a juvenile and you intentionally failed to register in regard to your most recent case.

Pen. Code section 290.018(b).

Next, if you are adjudged to be a “sexually violent predator” (California Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600) and you failed to register by each three-month deadline (California Penal Code section 290.012(b)), then the prosecutor can charge you with either a misdemeanor (punishable by up to 12 months in jail) or a felony, pursuant to Pen. Code section 290.018(f)).

The latter is also punishable by sixteen, twenty-four, or thirty-six months in prison, pursuant to California Penal Code section 1170(h)(1).

Regardless of your conviction, if you fail to prove to the police the address of where you reside, you can be charged with a misdemeanor which carries a maximum of 180 days in jail. Pen. Code section 290.018(h). The same applies if you fail to provide your online info. Pen. Code section 290.018(i).

And finally, and not surprisingly, if you’re released from prison and placed on parole, or in lieu thereof placed on probation, and you fail to register as required under your parole or probation terms, then your parole or probation will be revoked. Pen. Code section 290.018(l).

Example of a Sex Crimes Case – Failing to Register as a Sex Offender – Handled by the Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm (LADALF)

Charge: two felony counts -- Failure to Register as a Sex Offender – result: reduced to one misdemeanor

People v. W.S.: Client was charged with several felony counts of violating the Sex Offender Registration act (California Penal Code section 290).

Maximum possible sentence: six years in prison, pursuant to California Penal Code section 290.018.

To make things even worse, he was prosecuted at the Norwalk courthouse, where both judges and juries are particularly harsh on suspected criminals.

LADALF founder Ninaz Saffari and her top private investigator went right to work and put together an impressive amount of exculpatory evidence (e.g., numerous affidavits from percipient witnesses). Thereafter, Ninaz met with the prosecutor’s immediate superior to go over all the evidence, which proved that the prosecution’s witnesses had lied about their allegations.

Result: Ninaz convinced the DA’s Office to offer the client a drastically reduced plea to one misdemeanor and only one month in jail (though in all probability less than 15 days because of overcrowding and with good behavior).

The Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm (LADALF)

LADALF’s founding criminal attorney Ninaz Saffari has defended hundreds of clients against sex crimes charges that, upon conviction, would have resulted in mandatory lifetime registration. Fortunately, because of her vast experience (16 years as of March 2021, including her first four as a Deputy Public Defender), unparalleled skill (over 60 trials and 2,000+ cases completed), and unbeatable track record, she has been able to save a large percentage of these clients from having to register.