If you're charged with a sex crime, what are the best strategies to avoid having to register as a sex offender? This is probably one of the biggest concerns next to prison that people charged with sex crimes have.
That is, having to register as a sex offender for either 10, 20, or life. When you look at the three-tier system, it breaks down different sex-type charges into three different categories. The type you fall will dictate whether and how long you'll have to register as a sex offender.
In California, defendants convicted of certain sex crimes must register with local law enforcement in the city where they live. The information is sent to the State Department of Justice (DOJ) to be added to a public database.
Anyone who fails to comply with sex offender registration rules in California can be charged with a separate crime that carries severe fines and jail time.
The sex offender registry rules changed after California Senate Bill 384, which took effect on January 1, 2021. It created a new three-tiered approach to sex offender registration.
Under the old law, anyone convicted of certain sex-related crimes had to register as a sex offender for life under California Penal Code 290 PC, but this was determined to be a highly inefficient system.
Under the new system, convicted defendants in tiers one and two can petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry after a specific time, defined under the new California Penal Code 290.5 PC.
Who Must Register as a Sex Offender in California?
Penal Code 290 PC lays out a list of sexual-related crimes that require registration once convicted, including:
- Rape – Penal Code 261 PC;
- Pimping – Penal Code 266h PC;
- Pandering – Penal Code 266i PC;
- Sexual battery - Penal Code 243.4 PC;
- Child pornography – Penal Code 311.11 PC;
- Indecent exposure – Penal Code 314 PC;
- Oral copulation with a minor – Penal Code 287 PC;
- Lewd conduct with a minor – Penal Code 288 PC;
- Sexual Penetration with a foreign object – Penal Code 289 PC;
- Contacting a minor to commit a felony – Penal Code 288.3 PC;
- Child sex trafficking - Penal Code 236.1 PC;
- Continuous sexual assault of a minor – Penal Code 288.5 PC.
How Long Must Someone Stay on the Registry?
Before 2021, anybody convicted of a qualifying sex crime must register for life. As noted, California Senate Bill 384 (SB 384) changed that requirement to a three-tiered system, which changed the length of time based on the severity and circumstances of the crime:
- Tier 1 offenses: minimum ten years on the registry, which includes low-level sexual offenses such as sexual battery and misdemeanor convictions for other types of sex crimes.
- Tier 2 offenses: minimum 20 years on the registry, which includes mid-level sexual crimes such as sodomy, lewd acts with a minor, etc.
- Tier 3 offenses: lifetime registration is for severe sexual violations, multiple offenders, and sex crimes like rape, child pornography, sex trafficking, etc.
Can You Negotiate Reduced Sex Charges?
I can tell you right now, having defended people for sex crimes for the past 30 years, there are not too many sex crimes that don't require sex registration.
The job of your criminal defense attorney, if they're attempting to avoid sex registration, is to find a charge that fits the facts of your case and try to convince the prosecutor to let you plead guilty or no contest to that charge instead of the offenses that they typically charge people with who are involved in sex-related crimes.
Because those offenses almost always include sex registration. To do this, we will have to convince the prosecutor:
- you're not a danger to society,
- you're not a danger to children, and
- you're not a danger to be a recidivist.
This involves a bunch of different angles. One, we can get a psychological report done on you. We can get a Static 99 done.
These two tools help assess whether or not you'll be a recidivist, whether you'll commit this type of crime again and how dangerous you are to children and those individuals that would be victims of the kind of sex crime you're being charged with.
Strategy Meeting to Review the Details of the Sex Crime
Sex registration is meant to help law enforcement to keep track of those individuals who are more likely to commit sex crimes than the average citizen.
There are many different reasons that sex registration is forced upon people.
Sometimes it's inevitable, and we're fighting to get a 10-year registration instead of a life registration, for example.
Other times, it's inevitable, and we're trying to keep you out of prison.
So, we need to look at your case, your criminal record, and the circumstances surrounding your arrest and see if it's possible to fight the case and get a not guilty verdict or make the decision that it's not possible.
We need to do everything we can to mitigate the situation. The only way we can realistically do that is to have you come down and sit down with me because:
- I've been doing this for 30 years;
- I've worked for the District Attorney's office;
- I've worked for a superior court judge, and
- I've been a criminal defense attorney defending people like you since the early 1990s.
So, with that experience and background, I can listen to what happened. Tell me the truth, look at your background and give me an idea of what you're facing and the best path forward for your case. When they're deciding whether you're going to have to register as a sex offender:
- They're going to look at who the victim was in your case;
- They're going to look at what type of activity you're involved with;
- They're going to look at your criminal record;
- They're going to look at how much prison time you're facing, and
- Your dangerousness level to society.
These are all things that your attorney can fight for on your behalf to try to get you the best result.
Suppose you're charged with a sex crime and are scared about having to register as a sex offender; if you're afraid of going to prison and your safety, pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.
Let my experience work for you. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California. We offer a free case evaluation by phone, or you can fill out the contact form.