California's Tiered Sex Offender Registration & Removal from the Registry
California will now be providing relief from lifetime sex offense registration starting on July 1, 2021. Instead of mandatory lifetime sex offense registration for all registerable sex offenses, without any possibility of removing the registration requirement, California will be providing an avenue for a judge to remove the registration requirement for certain sex offenses. There will now be three levels of sex offenses, which will correspond to different requirements for removal from sex registration.
3 Tiers of Sex Offenses
On October 6, 2017, California State Senate Bill 384 [SB 384] was signed into law. However, the effective date for petitioning for relief was set for July 1, 2021. SB 384, created a new tiered sex offender registration system. This tiered system created three different tiers. The different tiers are based upon the seriousness of the crime that was committed.
Petitioning for Termination of Registration
As of July of 2021, registrants who are in Tier 1 and 2 who have met the requirements, based upon the age and type of offense, will be able to file a petition with the superior court the county where they reside to request removal from sex offense registration. However, relief is not automatic. The DA has the right to challenge whether they have "successfully completed" their tier. Undoubtedly, the DA will be opposing most, if not all, petitions for removal from registration.
To Petition for removal from registration you must do the following:
- File the petition in the County where you are registered.
- Serve the petition on the law enforcement agency and DA in the same County where the petition is filed, as well as the DA on County where the conviction took place.
- The DA has 60 days to request a hearing to oppose the petition.
- If the DA requests a hearing, they can present evidence to the court regarding whether the community would be at risk if registration were terminated. In making its determination whether registration should continue, the court will consider the following:
- The facts of the offense
- The age of the victims
- The amount of victims
- Whether the victim was a stranger or known to the defendant at the time of the crime (known for less than 24 hours)
- Criminal acts committed by the defendant before or after the offense
- The time period where the defendant has demonstrated good behavior
- Whether the defendant has successfully completed risk assessments and what those assessments show.
- Evidence is relaxed during this process. The court will accept declarations, police reports, or any other evidence from the parties which is deemed reliable and relevant.
- If the DA does not request a hearing, the petition for termination will be granted if the court concludes proof of current registration has been met, the type of offense falls within the tier for removal, the age of the offense meets the requirements, and there are no pending charges, and the applicant is not in custody or on probation, parole, or supervised release.
The Different Tiers
Tier 1 Offenses
Require registration for 10 years, or 5 years for minors. Tier 1 includes misdemeanor sex crimes as well as some non-violent, non-serious felony sex offenses. Some of the Tier 1 offenses include, but are not limited, to the following types of offenses:
Tier 2 Offenses
Tier 2 offenses provide for a 20-year sex offender registration period or 10 years if the offense was committed as a minor. These are considered mid-level felony sex offenses, and include those offenses that are not included in Tiers 1 or 3.
Tier 3 Offenses
Tier 3 Offenses are the most serious of the sex offenses. Tier 3 requires lifetime sex offense registration. However, certain Tier 3 offenses are what are known as wobbler offenses, that can be reduced to a misdemeanor under Penal Code section 17(b). Depending on the offense, a Tier 3 offense that is reduced to a misdemeanor may qualify for reclassification in Tier 1. However, at this time, there is no caselaw on this issue, as the statute is not yet in effect.
Time Frame for Reapplying
If for some reason a petition for termination from registration is denied, you can reapply. However, the court is required to set the time when you can reapply. You can reapply no sooner than one year after the denial, up to five years as set by the court. (See Penal Code 290.5(a)(4).)
If the petition is granted or denied, the court is also required to notifying the Department of Justice, Sex Registry of the outcome. If the Petition is denied, the Department of Justice will be notified of the time period when the petitioner can reapply.
If you are subject to sex offense registration or you have been charged with a sex crime, contact Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Mitchell and the Mitchell Law Group to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your options and strategy going forward. You can reach us via email through our contact form or via phone at 559-222-2424.