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What Determines if You Have to Register as Sex Offender?

This is a big question on a lot of 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 a sex offender.

They must register with the local law enforcement agency every year within 5 days of their birthday, and after moving to another residence. There are also some residency restrictions may could 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 the state of 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 10 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 mid-level sex crime such 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 serious 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.

In order to give readers a better understanding your responsibilities under the California Sex Offender Registry laws, our sex crime defense attorneys are providing 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 charged 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 tier 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 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 victim has a disorder,
  • Penal Code 288 PC - lewd acts with a minor under 14,
  • Penal Code 287 PC - oral copulation when 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 subsequent offense.

Removal from sex registration list under tier one and tier two is not automatic. A registrant has to petition the court at the end of 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 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 child under 10 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 defendants whose Static-99 scores places them an above average risk for being a danger to society.

Finally, it should also be noted, these list above don't include all the sex offenses that might require you to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code 290 PC, rather 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 10 years, some 20 years and some for life. 

So, these are the things that are of huge concern to those individuals who are charged with sex crimes, and what really 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 likelihood that you might commit a sex crime against a child would definitely 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 really questionable whether or not you should have to register as a sex offender.

Now, it's very questionable whether you should have to plead to a sex-related offense and 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 are charged with sex crime offenses and who are thinking about whether or not they are going to 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 a lot of people who are charged with sex crimes and the prosecutors want them to plead guilty to a particular charge, and they're saying, I will plead guilty to that but I don't want to register as a sex offender. 

What they're not getting is, just by virtue of pleading guilty to a particular offense, that is what 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, which is a mandatory registerable offense.

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

How Can I Avoid Sex Offender Registration in California?

So, what your criminal defense attorney has to do is if you absolutely 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 plead to a charge that does not require sex registration, but sometimes the prosecutors will have you register as a sex offender for the probationary period only.

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 definitely come to the right place here. For nearly 3 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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