BEGINNING JULY 1, 2021
Beginning July 1, 2021, many California residents who are required to register as sex offenders under Penal Code section 290 will be relieved of the lifetime registration requirement.
Who is eligible?
Tier 1 and Tier 2 offenders.
Tier One offenders include those who were convicted on a misdemeanor sex offense and for some non-violent felony offenses. Examples of Tier 1 misdemeanor offenses include possession of child pornography, indecent exposure, sexual battery, and arranging a meeting with a minor for a lewd purpose. Non-violent felonies include sexual battery of an institutionalized victim, sodomy or oral copulation where no force is used, and some acts of penetration with a foreign object.
Tier 2 offenses include some sex acts with a victim who is unable to give consent due to a mental disorder or a disability, lewd acts with a minor, sodomy or oral copulation with a minor under the age of 14 where no force is used.
There are additional offenses that qualify under Tier One and Tier Two; contact a sex crimes defense attorney to learn more.
Who is not eligible?
Generally, Tier 3 Offenders. However, some Tier 3 offenders may be eligible to petition for relief from registration after 20 years based on their risk level and other factors. Tier 3 offenses are all felony convictions and include most cases of forcible rape, sex trafficking of minors, “gang” rape or other sex acts forced upon an unwilling victim, most sex offenses that are committed by force, felony possession of child pornography, and other violent sex offenses. Tier 3 comprises the longest list of offenses.
How to Petition for Relief
Those who qualify may petition the superior court at the expiration of his or her mandated registration period. The procedure requires that the petitioner have no pending charges, is not in custody (jail or prison), and is not on parole or probation. Tier 1 offenders must have registered for at least 10 years prior to application for relief; Tier 2 offenders must have registered for at least 20 years (although there is an exception that allows Tier 2 offenders to complete only 10 years of registration before application for relief if the petitioner was convicted of the offense when he or she was under 21 years of age).
After the petition is filed, the district attorney may request a hearing to challenge the petition. If no hearing is requested, the petition will be granted if the court finds the petitioner qualifies for termination of his or her registration requirement. When the petition is granted, the requirement to register as a sex offender terminates.
If the district attorney requests a hearing, evidence may be presented regarding continuing the registration requirement in the interests of public safety. The court will then determine whether to grant or deny the petition based on offense factors as well as the offender’s characteristics (such as age, risk assessment, criminal history since offense). If the court denies the petition, the offender can re-petition at a time period set by the court to be no less than one year from the date of denial but no more than five years.
The sex offense registration requirement is an onerous and life-damaging requirement. Many sex-registrants are unable to find suitable housing and are treated like pariahs – the exhibitionist and the child rapist alike. This law eases that burden for many who committed the least of these sex crimes.
Do you think you might qualify for this important relief? Contact Orange County sex crime defense attorney William Weinberg to find out. He is available for a free consultation and will be able to assess whether you qualify and when you can file the petition. You may contact Mr. Weinberg at his Irvine office at 949-474-8008 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.