The first factor, which is pretty simplistic, related to criminal defense in sex crimes and whether you have to register, is the crime you plead guilty to or no contest to. There's a whole list of crimes that if you plead guilty to them, you must register as a sex offender.
The first battle is when a criminal defense attorney is talking to a prosecutor or judge regarding resolving the matter is; what are they going to try to make the client plead guilty to?
If you plead guilty to an offense that you have to register as a sex offender, then it's a done deal. There's no discussion. You can't plead guilty to a crime that mandates registration as a sex offender, and then the judge or prosecutors say you don't have to. That would be wrong.
That would violate the law. So, that's the first thing you have to understand then evaluating whether you're going to have to register as a sex offender, and that is that the crime you plead to in Los Angeles County is going to dictate whether you have to register or not.
Type of Sex Crime
The second thing that you need to look at as far as the factors go is the conduct of the individual charged with a criminal sex offense crime in Los Angeles.
The more egregious your conduct, the more likely you are to have to register as a sex offender because the prosecutors and judge also have the power that if you plead to a crime that you do not mandatorily have to register as a sex offender, the prosecutor, and the judge can still say, even though you don't have to, we're going to make you do it because of your conduct.
So, if your conduct is egregious, if they consider you a danger to the public, people who are doing things to children will be the most likely to fall into this lousy category of conduct. The worse your behavior, the more likely you will register as a sex offender.
The more we can distinguish your conduct from other offenders who are more likely to be recidivists, the more likely we will avoid registration.
California Penal Code 288.1 Report
That brings up factor number three regarding whether you have to register as a sex offender in Los Angeles, and that is getting a good expert — getting a good doctor who can evaluate you — who has experience evaluating those individuals who commit sex offenses and deciding whether they are likely to re-offend.
That's what the prosecutors and judges are looking at, so we call this a Penal Code Section 288.1 Report. When I do these, I'm usually getting a doctor who's on the court-approved list.
There's a panel of doctors on the court list that get paid by the court in certain circumstances, and they are also available to be hired privately.
So, getting one of these reports gives the doctor specific instructions on how to evaluate the client and lets them choose the tests.
When I do them, the doctors will read the police report and talk to the defendant about the case. Then they will evaluate them and decide how dangerous they are to commit future sex-related offenses.
This is one of the significant factors the prosecutors will look at when determining whether they will make somebody register as a sex offender.
The next factor — the fourth — that they look at in determining whether you have to register as a sex offender is your criminal record. If you have a spotless record and have no prior conduct similar to whatever you're charged with, you're at least in the ballgame to not have to register as a sex offender.
They're going to look at the other factors as well. Still, suppose you've got a record for sex-related offenses, and now you have another one. In that case, you bet your bottom dollar you're probably going to have to register as a sex offender if you're not registered as a sex offender already in Los Angeles county.
So, your criminal record is another one of the factors they're going to look at in determining whether you have to register as a sex offender this time. They're evaluating your danger level to the public at large, and that's one of the significant factors that they take into consideration in determining whether you have to plead to a crime that mandates sex registration or whether it will just be ordered as part of your probation if you could get probation in your case.
The fifth factor, I think, having done this for twenty-five years, that determines whether you register as a sex offender is a prosecutor.
Suppose you've got a tough, hard-nosed prosecutor with an attitude that everybody should have to register as a sex offender who commits any sex-related offense. In that case, that's going to be a huge factor against you.
When I bump up against these prosecutors, and they're definitely all over Los Angeles county dealing with sex-crime offenses, I a lot of times have to go to their boss and try to get their boss to see my point of view related to my client.
So, obviously, as a criminal defense attorney, this is something you're going to run up against. You're going to have to be able to deal with and get around.
But bet your bottom dollar that prosecutor is going to be in their boss's ear telling them how they feel about the case. That's one of the factors the boss will have to consider in determining whether or not they try to make you plead to a crime that forces you to register as a sex offender.
The next factor, number six, that I believe is essential in deciding whether or not you're going to have to register as a sex offender is a judge. Often, the judge will have a say in whether you're going to have to register as a sex offender.
I usually see this when the crime you're charged with is not an offense that mandates sex registration, but it is a sex-related offense. The judge will put you on probation, but then there's going to be a decision made whether you have to register as a sex offender.
Sometimes, they split the baby, and they say, okay, we won't make you plead to a charge that you have to register as a sex offender, but we want you to register as a sex offender while you're on probation.
If you do a good job and you don't have any trouble, then when you get off probation, you'll be able not to have to register as a sex offender. So, the judge has some say in this, and depending on the type of case, what the charges are and what the scenario is, the judge can be the final decision maker when it comes to sex registration.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer
As you've probably already guessed, the last of the seven factors is your criminal defense attorney. Your criminal defense attorney must have experience dealing in the court where your case is pending.
Has to have experience with sex crimes, and one of the biggest things I find myself doing is looking at the facts of my case and trying to find an offense that fits within the context of the points that you don't have to register as a sex offender.
If you listed every sex offense, I would say better than 90% of them; you must register as a sex offender. So, trying to find that 10% or less of crimes that you don't have to register as a sex offender is not always that easy, because if they don't fit the facts of your scenario, the prosecutor and the judge are going to say, no I'm not going to let you plead to that.
I'm not going to let your client plead to that. That has nothing to do with what they did. I need them to plead to something that they did. So, that's one of the most significant factors, and your defense attorney, their experience, their knowledge of the court, the judge, the prosecutor, how to maneuver these very politically-charged cases is probably the most critical factor when deciding whether you're going to have to register as a sex offender.