California Penal Code Section 290 mandates that those who commit certain crimes be classified as “sex offenders” and must register as such. Historically, PC 290 registrants had to adhere to onerous lifetime sex offender registration requirements regardless of the specific facts and circumstances pertaining to their conviction. California Senate Bill 384, which is also known as the “Sex Offender Registration Act,” provides a more nuanced approach as sex offenders are categorized into a tiered system based upon the circumstances surrounding their conviction.
Senate Bill 384 Implements a Tiered System
California legislators realized that requiring anyone convicted of a sex-related crime under PC 290 to register for a lifetime was not an effective way to implement the law as management and surveillance of sex offender registrants became unwieldy. Along these lines, the number of sex offender registrants surpassed 100,000 individuals and the sex offender registry was losing its effectiveness as a tool for the public at large and law enforcement in particular.
Accordingly, California now categorizes sex offenders into three distinct tiers. The following factors are considered before assigning a PC 290 registrant to a specific tier:
- The specific facts and circumstances surrounding the crime
- The perceived risk of recidivism (risk of re-offending)
- Criminal record or lack thereof and other contextual factors
The Sex Offender Registration Act creates three tiers as follows:
- Tier One is reserved for the lowest level offenders and mandates a minimum duration of 10 years on the sex offender registry. Examples of tier one offenses include many PC 290 eligible misdemeanor offenses and other representative crimes including but not limited to PC 243.4, PC PC 266, PC 286, PC 287, PC 288.4, PC 289, PC 311.1, PC 314, and PC 647.6.
It should be noted that if you were required to register as a sex offender as a juvenile, the minimum sex offender registration term is reduced to five years.
- Tier Two was created for mid-level offenses and requires offenders to spend a minimum of 20 years on the sex offender registry. Examples of tier two offenses may include PC 261, PC 285, PC 286, PC 287, PC 288.3, PC 289, and PC 647.6.
If ordered to register as a sex offender as a juvenile, the minimum sex offender registration term is ten years.
- Tier Three applies to the most serious offenses and mandates lifetime sex offender registration. Examples of tier three offenses include some of the most severe or violent crimes such as PC 187, PC 207, PC 209, PC 220, PC 236.1, PC 243.4, PC 261, PC 262, PC 264.1, PC 266, PC 267, PC 269, PC 272, 286, PC 288, PC 289, PC 653f, and PC 667.
How to be Relieved of the Obligation to Register as Sex Offender
Historically, there were two main avenues to seek sex offender registration relief, namely obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation or a governor's pardon. However, under the Sex Offender Registration Act as articulated in SB 384, there is now a process to obtain relief at the local Superior Court level in the county where the PC 290 registrant resides.
The SB 384 process involves first obtaining a designation into a specific tier. After a tier has been established, you must have served the minimum time mandated for the assigned tier level, furnished proof of compliance with all registration requirements, and served notice to both the local law enforcement registration agency and the local District Attorney's Office in the County where you reside. Once a hearing is set, arguments will be heard and a Superior Court judge will issue a ruling. It's strongly advised that you retain an experienced California sex offender lawyer early in the process in order to ensure all is handled properly and to increase your chance of success.
Contact a California Sex Offender Registration Attorney Today
At the Aron Law Firm, we strive to be thoughtful in all that we do as we craft creative solutions to complex problems. Sex crimes carry a substantial stigma and require an advocate that can see past a criminal record in order to fully understand the person and his or her unique circumstances. Give us a call to start a confidential dialogue today: 805-618-1768.