If you are found guilty of a sexual offense in California, the Sexual Offender Registration Act requires you to register as a sex offender with the law enforcement authority. Having a sex offender status on your record can significantly harm your social standing and income. This is because it restricts your chances of obtaining educational and professional career opportunities. Therefore, it is advisable to work with a lawyer who specializes in sex crimes as they can provide competent legal representation.
Our team of lawyers at Sex Crimes Attorney has successfully assisted numerous individuals facing charges for sex crimes in California. Whether you require representation in court or at trial, we are here to support you. Additionally, we will guide you through the potential outcomes of your legal matter, ensuring you have a clear understanding of your options.
Understanding 290 Registration Under California Law
The provision of California PC 290 makes it illegal for a sex crime offender to wilfully neglect to register with the local law enforcement authorities. A "sex crime offender" refers to someone who has been found guilty of any of the sex offenses mentioned in California PC 290.
Some examples include child pornography, child molestation, sexual assault, and other sex-related crimes. The prosecution has to demonstrate four elements to secure a conviction under the public safety provision.
The elements include:
- The defendant has a prior conviction for a California sex offense that requires registration under PC 290.
- The defendant lived in California.
- The accused was aware of his or her obligation to register with the sex offender registry.
- The accused willfully refused to sign up with the local law enforcement's office or update his or her registration.
Section 290's goal is to ensure that anyone found guilty of a sex crime is always available for law enforcement surveillance. This is required since the provisions of California law determine that the offenders are likely to engage in similar crimes in the future.
There are often concerns regarding the following areas of this law:
- The definition of residency.
- The knowledge factor.
- The willfulness.
- When it applies and how long an individual will register as a sex offender.
"Residence" implies one or more locations where a person usually dwells for California PC 290. This covers any shelter or facility with a street address, such as recreational centers and other automobiles.
It should be noted that transients are also required to register under this regulation. A "transient" is someone who does not have a permanent address. While transients might not be able to give law enforcement an address for their residence, they still have a responsibility to let them know about their whereabouts.
An accused person should have been aware of the requirement to register as a sex offender to be found guilty of not registering as a sex crime offender. This requirement imposes responsibilities on law enforcement authorities. For instance, if an offender gets released on probation, the officer in charge of the detention facility has to notify the defendant of his or her obligation to register.
However, an accused person is not able to evade this requirement by claiming that he or she forgot about their obligation to register. This implies that forgetfulness doesn't qualify as a legal argument for a PC 290 charge.
However, the court has acknowledged that mental incapacity can serve as an argument against a PC 290 accusation. This implies that forgetfulness can serve as a valid legal defense in cases where it includes a medical basis like senility or Alzheimer's disease.
A defendant engages in a crime "willfully" if he or she does it freely or deliberately. It's not required that the person being charged intends to violate the law.
Once a sex crime offender files with the local law enforcement authorities, their registration must be renewed:
- Annually, within five business days of the individual's birthday.
- Anytime the accused person relocates to a new location.
Transient sex crime offenders are required to sign up once every thirty days along with their yearly birthday registration. California Senate Bill 384 established a three-tier sex offender registry that specifies the length of time a sex crime offender is required to register.
Tier three perpetrators include those who were found guilty of the most heinous sex crimes. SB 384 states that:
- Tier 3 sex offenders should register for a lifetime.
- Tier 2 sex offenders should register for at least twenty years.
- Tier 1 sex offenders are required to register for at least ten years.
An Overview of Registration for Sexual Offenders
California's PC 290 compels all individuals facing a sex offense conviction to be listed as sex crime offenders. The section is extensive, and it's divided into various subsections that provide precise lengths for a sex offender's status.
According to the regulations, registering as a sexual offender entails informing the appropriate law enforcement agencies of your place of residence and whereabouts. If you're working, staying, or living in California, you are required to provide facts about your daily activities.
Implementation of the Sex Crime Offender Registration Tier System
Individuals convicted of sex-related crimes were initially required by law to sign up with the sex offender registry for a lifetime. As a result, even after spending time behind bars and finishing their term, the sex offender's status remained on their record. However, amendments have been considered and are included in SB 384.
The new statute developed a more compassionate system for registration by establishing three categories of registration and new terms that correspond to various tiers. Therefore, an accused sexual offender has the option of avoiding the record for the rest of their life, especially if the crimes committed were minor in tiers 1 and 2 respectively.
A three-tier registration system is structured as follows:
Tier 1- Ten-Year Minimum Registration
Following the enactment of SB 384, anyone found guilty of a sex crime can acquire a ten-year mandatory registration. This provision allows you to apply for withdrawal from the registry of sexual offenders sooner than it was previously allowed.
However, the rules only apply to those convicted of specified sex offenses that aren't regarded as serious. Therefore, you should consult with a legal professional for advice on whether the crime you were arrested for requires registration under tier 1. Some examples of common crimes in this category are:
Misdemeanor Sexual Battery
If you're found guilty of sexual battery under PC 243.4, you could qualify for a 10-year registration period. The crime involves subjecting an individual to sexual activities that might or might not involve penetration.
For instance, if you kiss someone without their permission, you could be convicted of sexual battery. While the crime is categorized as a sexual offense, the victim may not always suffer serious consequences. Therefore, you could be charged with misdemeanor charges and face tier 1 conditions.
Indulging in Indecent Exposure
PC 314 makes indecent exposure illegal and a punishable violation. It involves exposing sexual organs and other private body parts in public, such as women's breasts, to name a few. The goal of perpetrating the offense could be sexual enjoyment or annoyance through indecency.
Nonetheless, indecent exposure doesn't often result in severe injury to other parties who witness it, hence it can also be legitimately classified as a tier 1 offense.
Tier 2 - Twenty Years Minimum Registration
Alternatively, the court could rule that the matter involves a relatively serious sexual crime. As a result, your punishment for the charges will involve registering as a sexual offender as per Tier 2.
This category still allows sex crime offenders to file a request for withdrawal from the registry of sex offenders after completing the trial conditions. As a result, being familiar with various offenses classified as mid-level crimes under the tier 2 group is crucial. They are as follows:
Getting Involved In Lewd Activities with a Child Under the Age of 14
If you're convicted of engaging in indecent sexual actions with a child under 14 years old, it will be considered an infringement of the laws under PC 287. Furthermore, the judge takes into account whether the defendant in question was more than 10 years older than the minor. As a result of the aggravating elements, the court could increase the length of your sentence.
Incest can also result in serious consequences, including registering as a tier 2 sex offender. Incest is a crime under California PC 285 and entails sexual contact among family members and relatives.
Sodomy with a Juvenile Without Coercion
If you indulge a child under the age of fourteen in sodomy with no force or coercion used, you would violate PC 286. In this case, sodomy is an infraction involving anal or oral copulation with a child. The consequences can be quite severe, including the mandatory twenty-year registration period.
Tier 3 - Sex Offender Registration for Life
In this category, a sex offender is required to sign up and acquire a lifetime registration status. This is considered the most severe category, containing violent and detrimental sexual crimes. Those found guilty under the tier three category are often sentenced to lengthy jail terms that could include life imprisonment.
Tier 3 crimes include the following:
Rape is one of the most severe and detrimental crimes for those affected, and individuals who commit it face harsh punishments. In cases involving rape, the court can raise the penalty to life imprisonment under PC 261, based on the gravity of the offense. Similarly, the crime is classified as a tier three offense and bars the offender from appealing against the designation as a sexual offender.
Kidnapping Children for Prostitution
California PC 267 makes it illegal to take a child away to subject him or her to engage in prostitution. The crime is punishable by serious penalties and could quickly lead to imprisonment for a maximum of 30 years, in addition to the lifetime registration requirement as a sex crime offender.
Several offenses are classified into various tiers. As a result, your defense lawyer should work out the specific charges that you're facing or have faced in past convictions.
This will assist you in determining the right registration tier category to pursue following the completion of your case. Furthermore, knowing the registration term can help you plan ahead of time for your appeal to be removed from the registry.
Conditions to Meet When Filing an Appeal for Registration Termination
When your registration under Tier One or Two expires, you can choose to submit an appeal to have your records removed from the registry of sex offenders. However, submitting the motion doesn't guarantee that your name will be removed from the registry. Furthermore, since you don't have automatic access to the hearings, you should take the step and file the appeal.
Procedures for Filing an Appeal to Discontinue Sex Offender Registration
You can get a legal directive process to adhere to when applying for an appeal under the Senate bill's additional sections. The specific guidelines will be contained within SB 290.5 provision, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2021.
The procedure for submitting a petition starts with getting confirmation checks to see if the conditions outlined under SB 290e have been met. These clauses state that the defendant would only be able to file an appeal if he or she meets the minimum deadlines for tier one or two. As a result, the appropriate law enforcement authorities in your region will submit the conviction reports to the court for review. To validate the offender's eligibility, the prosecutors who handled the case need to get the conviction details.
If the prosecution decides to challenge your appeal, the prosecutor would do so at a hearing before the presiding magistrate. The main goal is to hinder the defendant from prevailing in the petition since he or she did not meet all of the requisite requirements under SB 290e. For instance, if you filed a petition for a sex offender status withdrawal under Tier 1 within thirty days before the ten-year period ended, the prosecutor could successfully oppose the appeal.
Furthermore, as specified under SB 290.5e, the prosecution can challenge your petition depending on the overall security of your neighborhood. According to the clause, you could get refused the right to appeal if your neighborhood would feel unsafe because of your registration. Therefore, your file could remain on the registry.
Nonetheless, your process could progress smoothly if you have completed all requirements and the prosecution team doesn't object to your application. As a result, your request will be granted, and the court will hear the case and render a verdict. The court does so by evaluating several factors outlined in section 290.5a3.
The presiding judge can grant or deny the deletion of your record from the registry depending on the fact that you have completed all of the conditions. If your application is rejected, you're allowed to re-file within 1 to 5 years of the initial judgment.
Cases When Your Registration Could Get Terminated Early
The Senate Bill's new laws allow certain classes of defendants to petition for earlier withdrawal of their sex offender registration period. Tier 2 and 3 perpetrators in defined categories are eligible for early termination under PC 290.5b.
To begin, those found guilty under Tier Two qualify for early cancellation if the defendant was 21 years or below at the time of committing the sex crime. However, under PC 667.5c, the charge cannot entail human trafficking or violent offenses involving sex-related abuse. The shorter period allows the defendant to file an appeal after 10 years of registering rather than 20 years.
Tier three perpetrators can also be able to file a petition after 20 years before getting a registration status for the rest of their lives. However, PC 290d3D determines the petition's success. If the court determines that the perpetrator does not pose significant hazards, he or she could be released early.
Application of the New Statutes in Juvenile Court
PC 290.008 established two categories of punishment for children who perpetrate sex crimes and are deemed wards of the court. Offenders who perpetrate minor sexual crimes will be registered as sex crime perpetrators for 5 years under Tier 1. Tier 2 perpetrators who engage in serious crimes, on the other hand, have to file as sex crime offenders for 10 years.
The new SB sections 290.46 and 290.45 offer guidelines for sharing sex offender details with the general public. The main reason for sharing registered persons' information is to allow the public to protect themselves from potential perpetrators of sex crimes.
As a result, law enforcement agencies and officers count on the registry for sex offenders to provide information to internet websites and databases. In this manner, any individual can locate the defendant's information and use it to identify them when they reintegrate into the community.
Legal Defenses Against a Failure to Register Charge
If an individual is charged with breaking registration laws, he or she has the right to contest the allegations. A good criminal defense attorney could be able to have the charges dismissed or reduced.
Three common legal defenses to California PC 290 charges include:
No Intentional Act
An accused person can only be found guilty of the charges if he or she willfully fails to sign up with the sex offender registry. That implies that proving that the defendant didn't act freely or with intent serves as a viable legal defense. For instance, a perpetrator could have failed to register since he or she was hospitalized.
Authorities Misplaced The Defendant's Registration Details
A sex offender could use this argument to claim that he or she gave law enforcement officers all of his or her registration details, but the officer misplaced them. Whether or not the defendant has evidence that they completed all the steps necessary to sign up as a sex crime offender determines the effectiveness of this defense.
Not Aware of the Requirement
The prosecutor has to demonstrate that the defendant was aware of his or her obligation to sign up for the sex offender registry. Therefore, proving that the defendant was not aware of the requirement to register is a solid legal defense. Sometimes, the judge or attorney might not have adequately expressed this obligation to register, and the accused person was unaware of his or her registration requirement.
Can A Defendant Have Their Conviction Expunged?
Defendants who have been found guilty under Penal Code 290 could attempt to have their records expunged. An expungement, according to PC 1203.4, absolves a person of nearly "all consequences and disabilities" associated with the offense.
One perk is that once a conviction has been expunged, it doesn't need to be reported to prospective employers. PEN 1203.4 generally permits an expungement for a felony or misdemeanor violation if the individual has successfully served their probation term (either formal probation or summary probation), or if the petitioner is not at the moment:
- Accused of committing a crime.
- Serving probation for an offense.
- Serving a prison term for a crime.
As a result, an accused person could begin the process of having the crime erased once they have successfully served probation for breaching PEN 290 (and their underlying felony) or served a jail sentence for that offense. However, it is important to remember that even though the conviction is expunged, the defendants are still required to register as sex offenders.
You could be subject to several implications after being found guilty of a sexual offense, including the need to register as a sex offender. Depending on the nature of the offense, following the requirements could result in sexual offender status for some time.
For this reason, it is critical for your freedom to keep up with the most recent developments in California's sex offender registration process and Senate Bill 384. A professional sex crime lawyer can assist you find out if the sexual offender designation will remain for 10 years, twenty years, or forever. After that period has passed, you and your lawyer can submit a petition requesting removal from that list.
Find a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Near Me
At Sex Crimes Attorney, we strive to offer our clients the best possible legal services. With our assistance, you'll be able to estimate how long the sexual offender status will be valid. We can also advise you on how to look into and pursue several legal options to challenge your sexual offender record. Call us today at 888-666-8480 if you need the assistance of a sex crimes lawyer.