An Explanation of California’s Three Tier Sex Offender System

Registering as a sex offender in California may permanently impact your life. Authorities must notify the public of your addresses and crimes you have been convicted of, limiting your life in terms of employment and accessibility to specific spaces. However, until 2021, California had been one of only four states, alongside Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida, to require lifetime registration of sex offenders.

Governor Jerry Brown signed California State Senate Bill 384 on October 6, 2017, implementing a three-tiered sex offender registration system in California. This tier system differentiates sex offenses by the severity of the crime by legally classifying them into three categories. The law went into effect in California on January 1, 2021.

Are you a registered sex offender? Do you meet the minimum requirements to petition the superior court in your county of residence to remove your name from the sex offender registry? Partner with Aron Law Firm for legal counseling and representation by some of our seasoned attorneys in criminal law.

Senate Bill 384

Senate Bill 384 modifies existing California sex offender laws by establishing a three-tier sex offender system. This ranks a sex offender and their crimes based on the following factors:

  • The extent of the crime
  • The number of victims offended
  • Likelihood of the defendant repeating the offense in future
  • If the sex offender poses a danger to society if released without supervision

The courts will then deliberate on the following factors to determine which tier to classify a defendant:

  • The age and number of victims
  • The relationship of the victim or victims to the defendant
  • If the defendant has previous convictions of sexually motivated offenses

Guidelines for each tier further classify the specific crimes falling under them and the issued penalty.

California’s Three Tier Sex Offender System

The tier system predominantly sets a precedent for how the courts will penalize the defendant. All tiers have a minimum duration for names to appear on the sex offender registry. A sex offender’s information must remain on the Megan’s Law website. Tier placement is as per the criteria outlined in Penal Code 290. Below is detailed coverage of all tiers and their specified duration of the official sex offender registry.

Tier 1

Tier 1 requires registration as a sex offender for ten years for adults and five years for minors. Tier 1 encompasses all misdemeanors and some non-violent felony sex offenses. These crimes include, but aren’t limited to:

As of July 1, 2021, sex offenders who have served the minimum ten-year requirement for tier 1 sex crimes may petition for their removal from the sex offender registry.

Tier 2

Tier 2 sex offenders are charged with crimes more severe than tier 1 sex offenders. The offender is required to register as a sex offender for 20 years for adults and ten years for minors.

Some crimes classified as tier 2 offenses include:

  • Incest Penal Code 285
  • Oral copulation Penal Code 288a
  • Ssodomy Penal Code 289.6, or acts of penetration with an inanimate object Penal Code 289 (b) when the victim couldn’t consent because they are mentally or physically disabled
  • Non-forceful sodomy or oral copulation with a minor under 14 years
  • Forceful oral copulation by threatening the victim or someone else
  • Obscene acts with a minor under 14 years old
  • Contacting a minor with the intention of sexually assaulting them
  • A second conviction for annoying a child for sexual purposes Penal Code 647.6

As of July 1, 2021, those who have already served the minimum 20-year requirement for any of the above-listed offenses may petition for removal from the sex offender registry.

Tier 3

This is the highest conviction for sexual crimes. Because of their crimes’ severity and the likelihood of repeating the said crime, they remain on the sex offender registry for life.

Some tier 3 offenses include:

  • Possession of child pornography (Penal Code 311.1.1)
  • Murder or kidnapping during or while attempting to assault a victim sexually
  • Sodomy or oral copulation when the victim incapacitated due to intoxication or simply unconscious
  • Pimping and pandering of a minor (Penal Code 266h)
  • Lascivious conduct with a child
  • Many instances of rape (Penal Code 261)
  • Habitual sex offenders Penal Code 667.71
  • Sex offenders deemed highly unsafe to the community upon being subjected to State Authorized Risk Assessment Tools for Sex Offenders
  • Coercing someone to commit a sex crime
  • An offender sentenced to life in prison or 15 to 25 years to life for violating Penal Code 667.61

If charged with any of the above-listed crimes, you’re ineligible to petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry.

Enlist the Help of Aron Law Firm

If you or someone close to you has been accused or convicted of a sex crime in California, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers in Santa Barbara, CA at Aron Law Firm. You stand a better chance of protecting your rights by seeking legal representation.

Our experienced lawyers understand these rights and strive to make the best case for you. Contact us today by filling out an online form or through our direct line at (805) 618-1768.