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What Determines if You Have to Register as Sex Offender?

This is a big question on many people's minds who are charged with a sex crime in the state of California. 

I can tell you right now, most sex crimes in the Penal Code or otherwise are registerable offenses -- meaning, if you plead guilty to those crimes, then you have to register as a sex offender. 

California Penal Code 290 PC requires convicted defendants of certain sex crimes to register as sex offenders.

They must register with the local law enforcement agency every year within five days of their birthday and move to another residence. Some residency restrictions may also be imposed, such as how close you live to a school.

On January 1, 2021, Senate Bill 384 replaced the lifetime sex registration requirement in California with a three-tiered registration system.

Put simply, there is no longer a lifetime sex registration requirement for most sexual-related offenses.

What Determines if You Have to Register as Sex Offender in California?

Tier one means sex registration for at least ten years and applies to people convicted of low-level misdemeanor crimes such as Penal Code 243.4 PC sexual battery and Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure.

Tier two means sex registration for at least 20 years and applies to people charged with a mid-level sex crime such as Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a minor and Penal Code 287 PC oral copulation with a minor under 14.

Tier three means lifetime sex registration and applies to people charged with the most severe sex crime, such as Penal Code 261 PC rape and Penal Code 236.1 PC sex trafficking children and those with prior sexual-related convictions.

To give readers a better understanding of your responsibilities under the California Sex Offender Registry laws, our sex crime defense attorneys provide a review below.

California Sex Offender Registration Act

The Sex Offender Registration Act requires registration as if you are convicted of specific sex crimes in California.

As noted above, a conviction for any sex crime once required lifetime registration, but that has now changed with the passage of SB 384. Now, most convicted defendants will have to register for a minimum of only 10 or 20 years.

To “register” as a sex offender simply means informing your local police station where you live, work, or go to school in the state of California.

As discussed above, the new sex registration system has three tiers. Let's review each level below:

Tier One Misdemeanor Crimes – 10 Years Sex Registration

  • Penal Code 243.4 PC – sexual battery,
  • Penal Code 287 PC – oral copulation with minor,
  • Penal Code 286 PC – sodomy,
  • Penal Code 266 PC - enticing a child into prostitution,
  • Penal Code 288.4 PC – arrange a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes,
  • Penal Code 289 PC - sexual penetration with a foreign object,
  • Penal Code 314 PC - indecent exposure.

Tier Two Sex Crimes – 20 Years Sex Registration

  • Penal Code 261 PC - rape if over 18 when the victim has a disorder,
  • Penal Code 288 PC - lewd acts with a minor under 14,
  • Penal Code 287 PC - oral copulation when the victim has a disorder,
  • Penal Code 288.3 PC - contact a minor with intent to commit a felony,
  • Penal Code 647.6 PC - annoying a child as a subsequent offense.

Removal from the sex registration list under tier one and tier two is not automatic. A registrant has to petition the court at the end of the registration period.

The court could deny the petition, and the District Attorney can request a hearing to oppose the petition.

If a registrant is convicted of another crime, then the waiting period is tolled (suspended) during any period of incarceration.

Tier Three Sex Registration – Lifetime

  • Penal Code 187 PC – murder committed in the commission of sex crime,
  • Penal Code 207 and 209 PC – kidnapping during a sex crime,
  • Penal Code 266h and 266i PC – pimping and pandering a minor,
  • Penal Code 261 PC – rape on most forms,
  • Penal Code 262 PC – spousal rape by force,
  • Penal Code 220 PC – assault with intent to commit a sex crime,
  • Penal Code 269 PC – aggravated sexual assault of a child,
  • Penal Code 267 PC – taking a minor away for prostitution,
  • Penal Code 288.5 PC – continuous sexual assault of a child,
  • Penal Code 288.7 PC – sex acts with a child under ten years old,
  • Penal Code 311 PC – child pornography as a felony crime.

Readers should note that tier three registration also applies to defendants sentenced to life in prison, deemed a Penal Code 667.71 habitual sex offender, and those whose Static-99 scores place them at above-average risk for being a danger to society.

Finally, it should also be noted, this list above doesn't include all the sex offenses that might require you to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code 290 PC; instead, they are a list of the most common charges.

Primary Factors Considered for Sex Registration

As discussed, there's now a new 3-tier system where some people have to register for ten years, some 20 years, and some for life. 

So, these are the things that are of enormous concern to those individuals who are charged with sex crimes, and what determines whether you have to register as a sex offender is:

  • the type of sex charge, and
  • whether the prosecutor and judge perceive that you are a danger to commit further sex crimes, either against adults or against children.

Put simply, the more likely you might commit a sex crime against a child would be a scenario where they're going to want you to register as a sex offender.

If you've committed an offense, what I would call a borderline offense -- in other words, it's questionable whether or not you should have to register as a sex offender.

Now, it's very questionable whether you should have to plead for a sex-related offense. Then you're in a position where you could potentially avoid registering as a sex offender.

Pleading Guilty to Certain Sex Crimes

Probably the biggest thing that is difficult to grasp who is charged with sex crime offenses and who is thinking about whether or not they will register as a California sex offender is that it's the charge that determines whether or not you have to register as a sex offender.

I have many people charged with sex crimes, and the prosecutors want them to plead guilty to a particular charge, and they're saying, I will claim guilty to that, but I don't want to register as a sex offender. 

They're not getting is, just by pleading guilty to a particular offense, that is determining whether they have to register as a sex offender.

For example, if they pled guilty to a Penal Code 261 PC rape charge, a mandatory registerable offense.

Then, if the prosecutor and judge said they didn't have to register as a sex offender, they would both be violating the law and end up with a big problem because you can't circumvent that requirement to register as a sex offender in particular sex crimes.

How Can I Avoid Sex Offender Registration in California?

So, what your criminal defense attorney has to do is if you do not want to have to register as a sex offender, is:

  • get a charge, if you're going to plead guilty, to an offense that does not involve registration; or
  • go to trial and be found not guilty, and then you won't have to register as a sex offender.

There's kind of a middle ground in sex crimes cases where somebody could lead to a charge that does not require sex registration. Still, sometimes the prosecutors will have you register as a sex offender for the probationary period.

How Can I Avoid Sex Offender Registration in California?

Then once probation is over, you're off probation, you're no longer required to register as a sex offender, and you can move on with your life.

So, in determining whether you're going to register as a sex offender, you're going to need to hire the best sex crime defense attorney you can find. 

You've come to the right place here. For nearly three decades now, I've been defending people for those offenses which involve sex crimes, sex registration.

So, pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.

Hedding Law Firm is based in LA County, CA, with two office addresses, including 2049 Century Park E #2525 Los Angeles, CA 90067.

We are also located in the city of Encino, in the San Fernando Valley. Call us for a free discreet, confidential consultation, or you can fill out our contact form.

Related:

How to Avoid Sex Registration If Charged with a Sex Crime

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Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about state or federal sex crime issues in California and throughout the United States.

I'll privately discuss your case with you at your convenience. All consultations are free, discreet, and confidential. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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