Ways to Terminate Sex Offender Registration in California

Being a registered sexual offender can be ostracizing. Your job prospects and movements are restricted. It is even awful when people can merely access your information on the Megan's Law website. Luckily, California law allows most registered sexual offenders to terminate their duty to register.

If you terminate your registration obligation, you will not have to experience the embarrassment of appearing on the state sex offender registry anymore. And if you are subject to disclosure to the public by your information being published on the Megan's Law website, you will no longer be placed on the website.

The law provides several ways a registered sexual offender can have their registration requirement terminated. At Record Expungement Attorney, our lawyers have tackled many sex crime cases and post-conviction relief matters related to sex offenses, including termination of sexual offender registration, and are ready to assist you. Call us for a consultation and case evaluation if you have been accused of a sex crime in Riverside or believe you qualify for registration termination.

Penal Code 290 Requirements

It is almost impossible for convicted sex offenders in California to rebuild their lives. PC 290 requires persons found guilty of sex offenses to register as sex offenders. According to this law, convicted sex offenders must comply with the registration requirement. 

SB (Senate Bill) went into effect on January 1, 2021, amending sex offender registration statutes. Before the enactment of SB 384, the law required all sex offenders to register as so for life. However, SB 384 eliminated the lifetime registration obligations for most registrants and introduced a three-level registry system, requiring registration to occur as stated below:

  • Tier one— this level incorporates the least severe sex crimes, for example, indecent exposure, misdemeanor child pornography, misdemeanor child molestation, and misdemeanor lascivious acts on a child above fourteen years. Tier one offenders are mandated to register for a minimum of ten years.
  • Tier two— the level involves mid-level sexual crimes, like rape (where the victim is above 18 years), incest, oral copulation with a child under 14 without violence or force, lewd acts against a child under 14, and sodomizing a child below 14 years without violence or force. Offenders should register for twenty years minimum.
  • Tier three— involves the most severe sex crimes, like aggravated rape, sex-trafficking a child, sending harmful content to a child, aggravated sexual assault of a minor, sodomy by violence or force, sexually penetrating a child by force, and other severe crimes. Tier three offenders are divided into two— 'Tier Three - Lifetime and 'Tier Three - Risk Assessment Level.' Tier Three - Risk Assessment Level offenders must register for a minimum of twenty years, while Tier Three - Lifetime must register for life.

Under 290(e) PC, the minimum registration period starts when a defendant is released from any form of confinement. Confinement could be incarceration in prison or jail, commitment to a mental health institution, or placement in a facility. The period is tolled if the defendant is re-confined and resumes after release.

But if the defendant is found guilty of another sexual crime requiring registration before the termination of their first registration, the period will recommence at the higher applicable tier. Additionally, the period increases for every conviction of failing to register. The minimum period will be extended by 12 months for every misdemeanor conviction of failing to register as a sex offender and three years for every felony conviction of failing to register.

How to Terminate Sex Offender Registration

SB 384 allows most registrants to seek termination of the registration requirement based on the nature of their sex offense and if they meet the provided condition. There are various ways of terminating this requirement. Whichever way you explore, you must have first successfully served your sentence for the crime you were found guilty of.

Additionally, the procedures are complicated. They include filing paperwork in court, which may need a court proceeding. Failure to understand the process or committing mistakes on the paperwork could lead to negative results. And if your petition to terminate is denied, you will stay on the registry. For these reasons, you want to work closely with an experienced attorney.

Petitioning the Court Under The New Registration Law

According to Senate Bill 384, sex offenders can request termination of their registration requirement after completing the mandated minimum registration period as required by the level of their offense. Therefore, tier one offenders can petition after ten years of registering, while tier two can do so after twenty years. Regarding tier three offenders, Risk Assessment Level offenders can petition after twenty years of registration, while Tier Three - Lifetime offenders are not eligible to petition.

Apart from satisfying the minimum period, an offender must also meet other qualifications:

  • They must provide evidence of present registration.
  • They should not have pending charges that could change their registration tier or increase the minimum period, and
  • They must not be in confinement or presently serving another sentence.

Failure to meet these conditions will lead to a denial of the petition. Additionally, offenders can only request registration termination if they have actively been registering in California. Put otherwise; a sex offender must currently be a California resident to qualify.

Tier two offenders may request termination earlier than twenty years, although eligibility is strict. If you are a tier two offender, you can file your petition after registering for at least ten years provided:

  • The registrable crime involved utmost one victim, fourteen to seventeen years old.
  • You were below 21 years when you committed the registerable crime.
  • The registrable violation is a non-violent felony as described under PC 667.5(c).
  • The registerable crime did not include human trafficking and false imprisonment.

Tier Three Risk Assessment Level offenders have additional requirements apart from registering for at least twenty years. These requirements include:

  • They should not have been found guilty of a violent felony or a new crime requiring registration.
  • Their registerable crime should not be a serious felony as described under PC 1192.7(c) or a crime classified under PC 288.

The California registration requirement does not terminate automatically once the minimum registration period is completed. An offender must request termination after their minimum registration time has expired. Put otherwise, an offender will not be automatically relieved of their registration duty; instead, they must persuade the court they deserve this post-conviction relief before their petition can be granted.

A petition to terminate registration under Senate Bill 384 should be tackled with the help of a knowledgeable attorney. The new registration law is complex and has many confusions and exceptions, making navigating the petitioning procedure challenging, even for lawyers, particularly inexperienced ones.

Fortunately, a defendant is usually not barred from re-petitioning for relief if the court denies their request the first time. The court usually allows the offender to refile their petition after some time (usually three to five years) has passed from their prior attempt.

The legal procedure for requesting to terminate registration requirements involves the following:

  • Drafting, timely serving, and properly filing the petition with the necessary declarations and forms.
  • Submitting before the court and to all the interested parties evidence of sex offender registration status from the police.
  • If required, presentation of risk assessment test results before the court and to all the interested parties.
  • Presenting argument and evidence during the petition hearing.

Note that you should file your petition with the court of the county where you register (this is not necessarily the county where the original case was handled). If you were convicted in a different state other than California, you must also serve copies of the petition and necessary documents to the police agency and D.A.'s office of the county where you were convicted. Failure to do so will lead to the denial of your request.

Petitioning for Exclusion from Megan's Law Website

Some registered sexual offenders can have their details taken off the Megan's Law website. Removing info from the website does not free the sexual offender from their obligation to comply with the sex offender registration requirement. Instead, if the court grants their petition, the sexual offender may have their info excluded or removed from the website, but they must continue registering.

To qualify to remove your information from the website, your conviction must be for the following:

  • Molesting/annoying a child per PC 647.6.
  • Sexual battery by restraint per PC 243.4a.

You may also be eligible if you can prove that your registerable crime falls under the following categories:

  • A violation for which you successfully served probation or are currently on probation, provided you submit to the Department of Justice (DOJ) a verified probation report copy.
  • A crime for which you were the victim's stepparent, parent, grandparent, or sibling. You must produce a report prepared per PC 288.1, a pre-sentencing report, or any other formal court document demonstrating the same.
  • An offense that did not entail penetration or oral copulation of your or the victim's rectum or vagina by penis or a foreign object.

Note that the court will deny your application to remove your details from the Megan's Law website if you commit a registerable offense or violate probation terms during the application process.

Additionally, it is critical to note that Tier Three - Lifetime sex offenders are not eligible for removal from the website. For Tier Three Risk Assessment Level offenders, they can qualify for exclusion  if:

  • They have not faced a conviction for a new registerable offense or a violent felony under PC 667.5(c) since they were released from confinement.
  • They have complied with the registration requirement for 20 years.

However, Tier Three Risk Assessment Level offenders do not qualify for exclusion if they were guilty of a PC 288 crime or a serious felony under PC 1192.7(c).

The legal procedure for petitioning for removal from the Megan's Law website includes the following:

  • Drafting, timely serving, and correctly filing the petition with the necessary declarations and forms.
  • Submitting to court and any interested party evidence of your registration status from local authorities.
  • Submitting evidence of risk assessment results.
  • Presenting evidence of the requisite family relationship between you and the victim.
  • Presenting argument and evidence during the petition hearing.

Usually, the petitioning process takes approximately four months. You should seek help from a lawyer if you wish to remove your name from the Megan's Law website.

Prevailing in the petition for exclusion from Megan's Law website will not relieve you from your duty to register as a sexual offender. Instead, it relieves you from your obligation to disclose your sex offender registration status on the website. Put otherwise, if you are successful in your petition, your status as a registered sex offender will not be disclosed to the public.

Petitioning for COR (Certificate of Rehabilitation)

California has established laws to help criminal defendants restore particular privileges and rights that were forfeited after a conviction. These statutes include the defendant's right to request a certificate stating they are fully rehabilitated from their previous criminal conduct (COR) or seek expungement of their criminal record.

Expunging a criminal conviction alone will not free a sexual offender from their obligation to register. However, an expungement plus a successful request for COR can relieve certain registered sexual offenders of their registration duty.

CORs are not granted in all sex crime cases. But for sex crime convictions ineligible for a COR, the offender can petition for a Governor's pardon. A Governor's pardon will also permit an offender to terminate their sex offender registration obligation. However, winning a petition for a pardon is more challenging than winning a COR petition.

To obtain a COR, a registered sexual offender must first expunge their criminal conviction. Not every sex crime is expugnable. Inexpungible sexual offenses include sodomy by violence or force, aggravated sexual assault of a minor, oral copulation using force, lewd acts upon a child, and continuous child sexual abuse, among others. For inexpugnable sex offenses, the offender will need to petition for a Governor's pardon to seek the termination of their registration requirements.

Petitioning for a COR is a less complicated process than petitioning for the same relief under SB 384. Additionally, offenders can petition for a COR before their minimum sex offender registration period expires.

For example, if a defendant is convicted of lewd acts with a child below 14 years, they must comply with the sex offender registration requirement for life. Under the new sexual offender registration law courtesy of SB 384, someone found guilty of lewd acts with a minor must wait a minimum of 20 years after their conviction before petitioning to terminate their registration requirements. But if the same sex offender petitions for a pardon or COR, they may have their registration obligation terminated after just ten years.

A COR application can only be made by people who satisfy residency requirements. Put otherwise, a court will not grant a COR petition unless the offender has resided in California for a minimum of five years. This period is usually more extended for certain more severe sexual offenses like continuous child sexual abuse.

All granted COR petitions are automatically presented as a gubernatorial pardon application. Therefore, an offender does not have to apply twice. However, some sexual violations do not qualify for a COR. In this case, an offender must submit a petition for a pardon directly to the Office of the Governor.

The process of filing a petition in court seeking a COR and pardon involves the following:

  • Drafting, timely serving, and correctly filing the petition per PC 4852 with the necessary declarations and forms.
  • Submitting to court and any interested party evidence of sex offender registration status from the police.
  • Submitting evidence of positive STATIC99 assessment.
  • Submitting evidence of California State residency to court and any interested party (residency requirements vary based on the sex crime conviction.
  • Presenting argument and evidence during the petition hearing.

It takes approximately three months for the court to decide on the filed petition.

Juveniles and Their Requirement to  Register as Sex Offenders

Juvenile sexual offenders receive different treatment than adult offenders. Senate Bill 384 established a two-tier registration system for juveniles convicted of sex offenses, which also entails shorter registration periods than adults.

Tier one offenders must register for five years, while tier two offenders are required to register for ten years. Tier two comprises the most severe sex crimes for juveniles, while tier one comprises the least severe offenses. To terminate their registration requirement, juvenile offenders must petition the juvenile court in the county where they are registered seeking the same.

Contact an Experienced Sex Crime Attorney Near Me

If you have fully complied with your sex offender registration duty, contact us to determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements to terminate registration under any of the options we have discussed. At Record Expungement Attorney, we have decades of experience navigating the California legal system and helping sex offender clients in Riverside.

We are familiar with COR petitions, expungements, petitions for removal from the Megan's Law website, and petitions under SB 384. Additionally, we can help you find a private evaluator for risk assessment. We offer cost-free consultations and are available 24/7 to serve our clients. Call us at 951-916-9248, and we will help you pursue the option for sex offender registration termination that suits your needs.

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