Ways to Terminate Sex Offender Registration in California
It is almost impossible to rebuild your life if convicted of a sexual crime in Los Angeles. PC 290 requires you to register with California’s sex offender registry, which restricts where you can work, visit, or live. Removal from the registry can be a viable option if you wish to put your past behind you and become a productive member of society. In this article, Los Angeles Expungement Attorney discusses different ways of terminating your registration responsibilities, including exclusion from the Megan’s Law website, Certificate of Rehabilitation, and SB 384. We have many years of experience handling post-conviction issues and can help you have a clean start.
Filing a Petition for Termination of Sex Offender Registration Requirement
According to the California Sex Offender Registration Act, individuals should register if they are found guilty of specific sex crimes in California.
In 2017 Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 384 into law. Senate Bill 384 established a tier system for registration for sex offenses. The system comprises three (3) tiers of crimes, each with a minimum registration duration.
The law allows registered sex offenders to file a removal from registry petition after completing their mandatory minimum registration period. However, you are bound by lifetime registration if your sex offender registration requirements are for life.
Before the law became effective in 2021, sex crime defendants were obligated to register for life.
The bill aims to boost public safety by:
- Permitting law enforcers to pay attention to defendants, and
- Allowing law enforcement authorities to target defendants likely to violate another law
How the 3-Tiered System Works
One significant change brought about by SB 384 is that it replaced the lifetime registration requirement for all crimes with three tiers based on the seriousness of the primary crime.
Tier 1 entails a ten-year minimum registration. It is designed for less severe sex crimes like:
- Indecent exposure (PC 314)
- Misdemeanor California sexual battery (PC 243.4)
Tier 2, which requires twenty years of registration, is for mid-level sexual crimes, including:
- Incest (PC 285)
- Lewd conduct with a child below 14 (PC 288)
- Rape of an adult incapable of consenting (PC 261)
Tier 3 carries a lifetime registration. It is for serious sex offenses like:
- Rape (PC 261)
- Child human trafficking (PC 266)
- Sexual conduct against a minor below 10 (PC 288.7)
These timeframes start when a person is released. However, they can be paused once the individual returns to confinement.
Additionally, Senate Bill 384 sets out criteria for sex offender tier designation. Although the specific sex crime is a crucial factor, judges should also consider the following:
- The alleged crime’s nature
- The number and age of the alleged victims
- Whether the defendant did not know the victim during the crime or knew him for less than twenty-four hours during the crime commission
- The accused non-criminal or criminal conduct after and before the crime
- The defendant’s risk of recidivism (existing risk of violent crimes or sex crimes)
- The accused’s risk level per the State-Authorized Risk Assessment Tool for Sex Offenders for dynamic, violent, and static risk assessments.
The court can also require a defendant who has been found guilty of a crime not highlighted in the Act to register as a sex offender if the accused committed a crime:
- For sexual gratification purposes
- Out of sexual coercion
The Process of Filing the Termination of Your Sex Offender Registration Petition
If successful, your petition can result in your removal from the sex offender registry. Also, the public will be unable to access your personal information.
Please note that your registration duration for every tier is the minimum period. However, as a Tier one registrant, you might be required to re-register annually for a lifetime if your petition for removal is denied.
The sex offender registration termination procedure is in PC 290.5.
To qualify for the termination, you should:
- Reside in California when filing the petition
- You should not be on supervision (PRCS, MS, probation, parole) or in custody
- You should not have a pending criminal charge that could impact your tier level or extend your registration duration
You should file your application in the Superior Court in your county of residence, alongside proof that registration is current. You should serve the petition on registering the District Attorney and law enforcement authority in the county where you were convicted. However, if you committed the crime as a minor, you should file your petition to the California juvenile court.
You should file your petition after or on your first birthday after your minimum registration period expires. Your petition should include evidence of your current registration.
After filing the petition, the DA and law enforcers will inform the judge whether you meet the termination requirements. Then the District Attorney can request a court hearing. The judge should grant your petition if you meet the minimum requirement and no hearing is scheduled.
If a court hearing is requested, you should present evidence. It allows the court to decide whether requiring continuous registration will improve your community's safety.
If the judge denies the petition, it should set a period between one and five years, after which you can file another application. The judge should clearly outline reasons for denying your petition and choosing that specific additional time frame.
Some of the provisions that can extend your timeframe to register as a sex offender include the following:
- Felony failure to register (FTR) conviction or misdemeanor FTR conviction
- Revocation of parole or probation
- Any incarceration periods
How Juveniles are Treated
A juvenile does not have to register as a sex offender like an adult. A minor’s registration period under Senate Bill 384 is as follows:
- Five years for Tier 1 defendants, and
- Ten years for Tier 2 defendants.
Exclusion from the Megan’s Law Website
The California Department of Justice operates and maintains the sex offender database in the tracking program. The public can access these details at the DOJ’s official “Megan’s Law Website.”
There are situations where the DOJ can exclude you from public notifications on the Megan’s Law Website. The defendant can apply for the exclusion if they are convicted of any of these crimes:
- Felony sexual battery under PC 243.4
- A California felony charge for making, possessing, or distributing child pornography if the accused submits to the DOJ a copy of a probation report brought to court that indicates that the victims were older than 16 years during the offense commission – PC 311.2, 311.1. 311.11, 311.4, or 311.10
- A misdemeanor charge of enticing a minor for prostitution or sexual intercourse (PC 266)
You also qualify for exclusion from the website if you:
- Committed a crime that did not entail sexual penetration or oral copulation
- The alleged victim was your sibling, stepchild, child, or grandchild
- Have successfully completed probation for this crime
The legal term “successfully completed probation” means that during the probation period, the offender did not receive additional prison or jail time for a probation violation nor was convicted of another crime leading to serving time. If you commit a probation violation leading to incarceration, DOJ will terminate your application for exclusion from the Megan’s Law website.
To initiate the removal process, you should submit a Megan Law exclusion form to the DOJ. The DOJ can take thirty to ninety days to process the application. Please keep a copy of the court order granting the petition until you receive a letter from the DOJ stating the registration requirements have been terminated. The sex offender registration requirement ends once the court grants the petition.
The DOJ will deny the exclusion if you are deemed a sexually violent predator even when you meet the exclusion criteria discussed above. A sexually violent predator is an individual who has been:
- Convicted of a sexually violent crime against at least one victim, and
- Diagnosed with a mental health condition that makes them a threat to the safety and health of others in that they will likely engage in another sexually violent criminal conduct
You can also seek removal by obtaining an expungement or certificate of rehabilitation.
You will face a California misdemeanor for a convicted sex offender to go on or in any manner access the website. The crime carries the following maximum penalties:
- A six-month jail sentence
- One thousand dollars in fines
Being excluded from the website does not terminate the sex offender registration duties per PC 290. On top of Megan’s Law Website Inclusion, several other privately-owned public criminal websites could exhibit your information, frequently inaccurately. Currently, there are no government regulations for privately-owned criminal databases.
Certificate of Rehabilitation
A certificate of rehabilitation (COR) relieves a person’s obligation as a sex offender, provided:
- They have not been found guilty of another crime or completed their sentence
- They are not on parole or probation for a California felony
- They have lived in the state for more than five continuous years before filing the COR petition
- They have been rehabilitated after the release from probation, parole, or custody
- You were found guilty of a California misdemeanor sexual crime highlighted in PC 290, and your conviction was expunged
Please note that a defendant does not qualify for COR if:
- They were sentenced for a California misdemeanor (other than those outlined in PC 290)
- They are not serving a compulsory life parole
- They were found guilty of a crime that carries death as a penalty
- They served in the U.S. military
- They violated a federal offense or an offense in another state
- They were sentenced for any of these sexual crimes:
- Sodomy by threat or force or sodomy with a minor (PC 286(c))
- Child molestation (PC 288)
- Oral copulation by threat or force
- Oral copulation with a minor (PC 287(c))
- They were sentenced for an otherwise sex offense, and the judge believes they are still a threat to children.
How Long You Should Wait Before Waiting to File Your Petition
As a COR applicant, you should establish a satisfactory period of rehabilitation. It means:”
- A five-year residency in the state before applying, and
- Two to five more years, depending mainly on the alleged crime
All sex offenses require a ten year period before applying for your COR. However,
- violation of child pornography law (PC 311.2)
- sexual child exploitation
- indecent exposure (PC 314)
require only two additional years, making it seven years of rehabilitation.
The rehabilitation duration starts running immediately when the defendant:
- Is released from compulsory supervision,
- Is community supervision, or
- Completes probation or parole
Your rehabilitation period means the minimum duration that should have passed before you obtain the COR. You are guaranteed to be granted the petition.
How to Apply for COR
If a person satisfies their eligibility requirements, they can bring a COR.
Acquiring and Bringing Your COR Petition
You can acquire a COR form from the Superior Court in the county of your residence.
You will not incur any court costs or filing fees related to obtaining your COR.
Acquiring Copies of Your Criminal Record
Alongside your petition, you should provide information about your conviction, including:
- Your conviction date
- The county where you were convicted
- The alleged crime
- Your release from jail or prison date
- When you were discharged from parole or probation
You can get copies of the criminal records from the jurisdiction where your conviction happened or via the DOJ.
You can get the criminal records for the California DOJ at the Office of the Attorney General's official website. You will pay a 25-dollar fee.
Next, the court should schedule a court hearing to assist the judge in determining whether to grant the COR. The court should also issue a notice of the filing to the D.A. (district attorney) of the county you were found guilty in and the governor’s office.
You should personally attend the court hearing. During the court hearing, you should present proof in favor of the COR.
Your defense attorney can work with the prosecution before the court hearing to have support. The prosecutor’s support can persuade the court to make favorable decisions.
Some of the factors the judge considers when determining whether to deny or grant the petition include:
- Arguments presented by the district attorney
- The defendant’s prison record
- The trial records or court proceedings record
- The accused’s criminal history, plus the seriousness and circumstances of the offense
- Community and family ties
Additionally, the court will consider the following evidence:
- Evidence that you work or go to school
- Education and work history
- Evidence of your volunteer work
- Recommendation letters from employers, family, friends, colleagues, psychologists, and teachers
- A statement indicating why you are in search of the post-conviction relief
- Evidence of residence
- Any relevant evidence that can assist in proving your eligibility, rehabilitation, and good character
What Occurs When the Judge Grants COR?
After the judge grants the COR, they will forward copies to the following:
- The state governor’s office
- The DOJ
- The Board of Parole hearings
- The Supreme Court (If you have more than two convictions)
The governor might deny a pardon if you have at least two felony convictions unless most of the California Supreme Court judges recommend it.
When the court grants the COR, it will automatically become your governor’s pardon application. You do not require any further action.
The COR does not erase or expunge the criminal record. After granting the petition, the DOJ will forward copies to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Then your criminal history will show that a COR has been granted in association with the underlying crime.
What Happens If the Judge Denies Your Petition?
The defendant can appeal your court order if the judge denies the COR petition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Los Angeles Expungement Attorney provides you answers to frequently asked questions about sex offender registration. If your question still needs to be answered, please contact us.
What Happens If You Fail to Register as a Sex Offender?
Failing to register as a sex offender is an offense. You will face a misdemeanor if the primary crime is a misdemeanor. You will be charged with a felony if your underlying crime is a felony.
Why Do You Require Legal Assistance for Removal from the Sex Offender Registry?
The procedure involved in sex offender registration removal is complicated. One wrong move and the petition is dismissed before you can argue your case before the judge. Your defense attorney is well-acquainted with the law and will ensure that the case follows the procedural requirements.
Can the Court Deny Your Petition Without Scheduling a Hearing?
Under PC 290.5(a)(3), as amended per SB 118, the court can summarily deny your petition if the court determines you do not satisfy your statutory termination of sex offender registration requirements. Additionally, the court can only accept your application if you fulfill your service and filing requirements.
After denying the petition, the court should give reason(s) for the denial.
Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
California sex offender registration is a heavy burden to bear. Your loved ones and colleagues will look at you differently and might exclude you from social events. You might also find challenges securing employment.
Fortunately, you can terminate the sex offender registration, but the process is complicated, lengthy, and often unsuccessful. For this reason, you should hire a sex crime attorney. At Los Angeles Expungement Attorney, we can work on your case and advocate for your rights. Please contact us at 424-286-1516 to schedule your initial case evaluation.