After a conviction for a sex crime, you could face similar punishment as defendants charged with other criminal offenses. The penalty could include hefty fines, prison, or jail sentences. In addition, a sex crime conviction could also lead to harassment or stigma in society, destroyed relationships, loss of employment, a damaged reputation, and loss of privacy. Sex offender registration is the only exceptional penalty for sex crimes. As provided under Penal Code 290, if you are found guilty of a sex offense, the court could order you to register as a sex offender for a defined period or a lifetime, depending on the nature of the crime. The names of registered sex offenders are publicized, and anyone can search for and view them on public domains as provided under Megan’s Law. If you are required to register as a sex offender, the Sex Crimes Attorney can guide you through the process and help you defend your rights.
Sex Offender Registration And Notification Act (SORNA)
SORNA is a section of the comprehensive federal statute. It encourages states to uphold a system for tracking and monitoring people charged with sex offenses once released into the community. According to the law, knowingly failing to register with the local authorities is a federal offense. It is also an offense under SORNA for you to fail to update your registration after a designated period stipulated by the law.
You must register with the authorities as a sex offender if the court charges you with certain sex crimes. Unfortunately, most people still make mistakes, even though the definite requirements of what, when, and how a person must report are well highlighted. Many people fail to comprehend the reporting requirements clearly, while others try to sabotage the law. Therefore, it is advisable to be vigilant if you are among those required to register. The law is strict regarding reporting requirements, and non-compliance is a serious violation. You could face severe penalties for a simple, accidental, or intentional mistake.
Each state has different ways of categorizing offenses regarded as sex offenses. In addition, states impose appropriate punishment for each sex offense. However, SORNA categorizes all crimes into three main ''tiers'' after the enactment of Senate Bill 384 on January 1, 2021. The bill replaces the lifetime sex registration requirement in favor of the three "tiers.” Sex crimes are categorized based on the following:
- Aggravating factors.
- The victim’s age, and.
- Other related factors.
There are definite reporting requirements for each tier.
Tier 1 Offenses
If you commit a sex crime and do not have a criminal record, you must register for a period that does not exceed ten years under Tier 1. In addition, you will register for a period that does not exceed five years for a juvenile conviction. However, you have to avoid committing any subsequent sex crime or an offense whose penalty is one year or more of imprisonment. You must also attend and complete a parole period and a sexual offender treatment program. If not, the court could order you to register as a sex offender for 15 years after securing your release from prison. The offenses under Tier 1 include:
- Sexual battery — PC 243.4 charged as a misdemeanor.
- Sexual battery (PC 243.4) when charged as a felony if the touching is purposely for sexual abuse, sexual gratification, or sexual arousal. Sexual battery is a felony if the victim is hospitalized for treatment and is disabled or medically incapacitated.
- Enticing a minor into a house of prostitution — PC 266.
- Inducing sex by fraud — Penal Code 266(c).
- Sodomy — Penal Code 286 violation charged as a misdemeanor. If you commit sodomy on a minor who was 14 years or within ten years of your current age at the time of the offense, the judge could drop the registration requirement.
- Sodomy under PC 286 when charged as a felony. The judge could drop the registration requirements if the minor were at least 14 years or within ten years of your age when you committed the crime.
- Sodomy under Penal Code 286 when charged as a felony, but there was no use of force. The judge could drop the registration requirements if the minor were at least 14 years or within ten years of your age when you committed the crime.
- Oral copulation — Penal Code 287 charged as a misdemeanor. The judge could drop the registration requirement against you if the minor was at least 14 years old or within ten years of your current age.
- Oral copulation under PC 287 when charged as a felony, and you did not use force. The judge could drop the registration requirement against you if the minor was at least 14 years old or within ten years of your current age.
- Arranging to meet with a child for lewd purposes — PC 288.4 when charged as a misdemeanor.
- Annoying a child under Penal Code 647.6 as a first offense.
- Child pornography under Penal Codes 311.1 and 311.11 when charged as a misdemeanor.
- Indecent exposure — PC 314.
Tier 2 Offenses
A sexual crime is categorized as a Tier 2 offense if the penalty involves a jail term of at least one year. A tier 2 crime charge typically attracts a 25-year sex offender registration obligation. The violations under this tier include the following:
- Rape — Penal Code 261 when the victim is above 18 years but cannot give consent because of a developmental or physical disability or a mental disorder.
- Incest — Penal Code 285.
- Sodomy — Penal Code 286 with a child below 14 years or a victim over ten years younger than you.
- Sodomy with a victim that is physically or mentally challenged.
- Lewd acts with a minor under 14 years — Penal Code 288.
- Contacting a child with an intent to commit a felony —PC 288.3.
- Acts of penetration with a foreign object against when the victim is above 18 years but cannot give consent because of a developmental or physical disability or a mental disorder — Penal Code 289.
- Acts of penetration with a foreign object — Penal Code 289 when you accomplish the act without the victim's consent by threatening to retaliate against them or someone else. Additionally, executing the act on the victim with a physical disability or mental disorder.
- Annoying a child as a second or subsequent crime — Penal Code 647.6.
- Oral copulation with a child below 14 years or when the victim is more than ten years younger than you when you committed the crime — Penal Code 287.
- Oral copulation on a victim incapable of giving consent due to a physical or developmental disability or a mental disorder.
Tier 3 Offenses
According to SORNA, Tier 3 crimes are the most severe offenses. Tier 3 offenses include:
- Murder committed during attempted commission or commission of rape under Penal Code 187 or any other forced sexual act under PC 261, 286, 287, 288, 289.
- Kidnapping during attempted commission or commission of rape under PC 207 or 209 or any other forced sexual act under PC 261, 286, 287.
- Assault intending to commit a felony — PC 220, but not an assault to commit mayhem.
- Sex trafficking children — PC 236.1(b) and (c).
- Sexual battery as a felony— Penal Code 243.4.
- Spousal rape using force — PC 262.
- Aiding a rape or an act of penetration using a foreign object under PC 264.1.
- Pimping and pandering with a minor — Penal Code 266h (b or 266i(b).
- Transporting or giving out a minor under 16 years for a lewd purpose under PC 266j.
- Taking away a child for prostitution under PC 267.
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child under PC 269.
- Sending harmful materials to seduce a minor.
If the judge believes that you committed the above crimes based on sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification, the judge will order you to register as a sex offender. The judge could do so even if your crime is not highlighted in the Sex Offender Registration Act.
Typically, you cannot secure an automatic removal from the registry under tiers one and two. Instead, you must file a petition with the court at the end of the 10 or 20-year registration period. In most cases, the district attorney will request a hearing to oppose your petition, or the court could reject your petition. Additionally, if you are a Tier one or Tier two registrant charged with another offense, the court will take the ten and 20-year period during subsequent incarceration.
There is also a Risk Assessment Level designation under Tier 3. This includes individuals who were only charged under tiers one and two. Still, their risk level was above average at the time of their relief, according to SARATSO scoring. Therefore, these individuals could remain on the register for a period that does not exceed 20 years.
Duties Of Registration
According to Penal Code 290, you are required to fulfill your initial reporting requirements. In addition, you must appear in person and register your primary address with your local authority within five working days of release from jail, discharge from the hospital, or your sentence.
The court will notify the California Department of Justice once you are required to register as a sex offender. The department will monitor your compliance with the reporting requirements. According to SORNA, you are required to update your information within five working days of your birthday.
Your registration requirements can also be based on several circumstances, including:
- If the court declares you a sexually violent predator.
- Whether you are employed or enrolled by a California institution of higher learning.
When You Move
You must report your new information to the local authorities any time you move within five working days. If you live in several places, you must give the address for each place. If you have homes in different cities, you must notify the local authorities in each city. If you move to another state, you must register as a sex offender according to the law in that state. If you are not a California resident but study there and are a registered sex offender, you must register with the local authorities where you study.
Living as a Transient
Living as a transient means you have no permanent home. In this case, you must notify the local authorities in the area where you are physically present once per month. For example, if you have not stayed in one place for five days since registering as a sex offender, you must notify the local authorities where you are physically working on the fifth day. You must also notify the campus law enforcers if you are physically present at a university, college, or any of their facilities.
If you move into a home, you must report your new address to the local police within five working days. You must report it again within five working days if you become transient.
Sexual Violent Predator
If the court declares you a sexually violent predator, you must update your information every 90 days. A ''sexually violent predator is a person:
- Diagnosed with a mental disorder that makes them a threat to society.
- Charged with a violent sexual crime.
Being Employed Or Enrolled By In A College
Apart from the reporting requirements, if you are an employee or student at any university or college, you need to fulfill the following:
- Register your details with the campus law enforcers, if any, within five days of your employment or enrollment or
- Within five days of leaving the institution.
If the campus does not have a police station, you must register with the police agency that patrols the area.
Supervising or Working With Children
You must disclose your registered status if you apply for or accept a volunteer or paid position to work with the children. In addition, you must notify your employer or organization at the time of acceptance or application. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to apply to work with children if the crime you were charged with involved a minor under the age of 16. Additionally, if a private or public school hires you and you are arrested for an offense listed under Penal Code 290, the police will immediately inform your employer.
The law requires you to inform the local police agency if you change your name. You need to report it within five days of changing the name. If the prosecutor convicts you of a crime that requires registration but finds you not guilty because of insanity, you will still have to register as if you were convicted under PC 290.
How Megan’s Law Works
Once you fulfill your reporting requirements to the local police as a registered sex offender, they will forward your details to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The Department of Justice has a Sex Offender Tracking Program, which maintains a list of registered sex offenders for public safety. In addition, any person can access your details online on the DOJ's ''Megan's Law'' website. However, the extent of the details that can be accessed on this website depends on the sexual crime you were convicted of.
Irrespective of the crime you are convicted of, the details that could appear on the website include the following:
- Your name.
- A photo.
- Date of birth.
- All phone numbers.
- Driver’s license number.
- Finger and palm print.
- Social security number.
- Year of charge.
- The crime that subjected you to Penal Code 290 sex offender registration.
- Identifying information like scars, tattoos, eye color, height, weight, and any known aliases.
- The year of release.
- Your vocation or the name of the school or college you attend.
- Any online identifiers.
A person can access a registered sex offender's details on Megan's Law's website under the following categories:
This category shows the offender’s complete address. This category is also reserved for offenders who:
- Have been charged with several sex crimes.
- Charged with severe sex offenses.
The serious crimes that require complete disclosure of the address include:
- Murder committed during attempted commission or commission of rape under PC 187.
- Kidnapping with the intent to commit rape under PC 207.
- Rape, when accomplished through fear or force under PC 261.
- Specific acts of oral copulation under PC 287.
- Certain lewd acts with a child when charged as felonies under PC 288.
- Aggravated sexual assault of a minor under PC 269.
- Any person designated as a violent sexual predator.
This category shows the zip code of the registered offenders. Offenders charged with less severe crimes fall into this category, and the crimes include:
- Felony sexual battery when the victim is illegally restrained under PC 243.4.
- Several misdemeanor sex crimes involving children.
The information of some registered offenders in California is not publicized. You can only fall into this category if:
- Your petition for internet exclusion succeeds.
- The crime you were convicted of is not listed in any of the above categories.
The Sex Offender Tracking Program usually reviews exclusion applications. Your application can only be approved if you were charged with the following:
- Sexual battery by restraint PC 243.4.
- Misdemeanor child molestation under PC 647.6.
- Any sex crime that did not involve penetration or oral copulation with the victim being your child, grandchild, stepchild, or sibling.
- You must also be completing or have completed probation.
SORNA only requires registration for a specific category of older juveniles. These are juveniles convicted of child molestation or specific sexually assaultive crimes. Section 111(8) states that these are crimes similar to federal aggravated sexual abuse. A minor could be added to Megan's list because of the following:
- Engaging in a sexual act with someone else using force or threat of serious violence.
- Engaging in a sexual act with someone else after rendering the person unconscious.
- Engaging in a sexual act with another person by involuntarily drugging them.
- Engaging in a sexual act with a minor below 12 years.
Effect Of Senate Bill 145 On Registration Requirements
Before the enactment of SB 145 in 2020, individuals convicted of sodomy (PC 286(b)) and oral copulation of a child (PC 287(b)) were required to register as sex offenders. Judges can drop the registration requirement against a defendant charged with the above crimes. One of the factors the judge could consider is if you are not more than ten years older than the minor and the minor is at least 14 years old.
Punishment For Failure To Register As a Sex Offender
You could fail to register as a sex offender for fear of loss of privacy, harassment, or societal stigmatization. However, the punishment for failing to register as a sex offender is severe. The penalty for failing to register as a sex offender depends on whether the initial sex crime you were convicted of was a misdemeanor or a felony. Failure to register is equally a misdemeanor if the court charges you with a misdemeanor according to the law. In this case, the possible penalties you could face include:
- A fine that does not exceed $1,000.
- A jail term that does not exceed one year in a county jail.
- Summary or misdemeanor probation.
If the court charged you with a felony, then failure to register is also a felony. You could therefore face the following penalties:
- A fine that does not exceed $10,000.
- A jail term of 16 months, two years, or three years in a state prison.
- Formal or felony probation.
A violation of PC 290 alone cannot have negative immigration repercussions. According to the U.S. immigration statute, only certain types of crimes can lead to the deportation of a non-citizen. Certain crimes can also make a non-citizen inadmissible. Inadmissible or deportable offenses include:
- Domestic violence crimes.
- Crimes involving firearms.
- Controlled substances crimes.
- Aggravated felonies.
- Crimes of moral turpitude.
On the other hand, violations of Penal Code 290 affect your gun rights. However, it depends on whether you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. Under the law, the following individuals are not allowed to own or possess a gun:
- People below 21 years.
- Individuals with mental disorders.
- Persons charged with certain misdemeanor crimes like corporal injury on a spouse, according to PC 273.5.
- Persons charged with two or more crimes under PC 417.
- Narcotic addicts.
- Individuals charged with felony crimes in any jurisdiction.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you face charges for failure to update your registration status or face initial federal prosecution for a sex offense, you need a skilled attorney to protect your rights. A knowledgeable attorney can explain how the law applies in your situation and advise on the best defense to challenge your charges. At the Sex Crimes Attorney, we understand how complicated registration requirements can be and how easy it is for you to make mistakes. For example, reporting a day late or failing to update an online identifier could attract severe penalties. Our lawyers will represent you and ensure you do not violate the sex offender requirements. Contact us at 888-666-8480 to speak to one of our attorneys.