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Navigating the Complexity: How a Los Angeles County Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Can Streamline the Sex Offender Registry Removal Process

By July 3, 2023May 19th, 2024No Comments
Businessman Shaking Hands with Lawyer | Removal From Sex Offender Registry in LA​​​ | Wegman & Levin

Like most states, California prosecutes sex-related criminal offenses aggressively. People convicted of sex crimes will likely face significant penalties, including incarceration, costly fines, mandatory counseling, and other restrictions on their freedom and future. Additionally, those convicted of a sex crime must register as a sex offender on a publicly available list, further complicating their housing and employment opportunities after they have served the other components of their sentences. However, California recently amended its sex offender registry requirements in an effort to allow lower-level offenders to learn from their mistakes and enjoy the opportunity to live an upstanding life.

The previous law required anyone convicted of a sex crime to add their name to the sex offender registry for the duration of their life. When California passed Senate Bill 384, the amended legislation established a three-tiered system to classify sex-related criminal offenses. Those convicted of Tier 1 and Tier 2 offenses can now petition the court to have their names removed from the California Department of Justice Sex Offender Registry after ten years (for Tier 1 offenses) or 20 years (for Tier 2 crimes), provided the petitioners meet all the other eligibility criteria. Although California does not require petitioners to work with an attorney to seek a registry removal request, doing so carries significant benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages of enlisting the assistance of a seasoned and knowledgeable Los Angeles County criminal defense attorney when seeking a sex offender registry removal request.

Understanding California’s Three-Tiered Classification System

As of January 2021, California law recognizes three tiers of sex-related criminal offenses, ranging in severity from lowest (Tier 1) to highest (Tier 3). This amended legislation removes the lifetime registration requirement for Tier 1 and Tier 2 offenses, provided the individuals seeking registration removal fulfill additional eligibility requirements. Below is a brief overview of the three tiers to give you a better idea of the types of offenses that usually fall under each category.

Tier 1 Convictions (Lowest Level)

Sex crimes that fall under Tier 1 are considered low-level offenses. For instance, misdemeanor sexual battery, inducing sex by fraudulent means, misdemeanor child pornography, and indecent exposure typically fall under this umbrella. Those convicted of a Tier 1 offense must remain on the sex offender registry for ten years, after which they may petition the court to remove their name from the registry (provided they meet the other eligibility requirements to seek such an action).

Tier 2 Convictions (Mid-Level Offenses)

Tier 2 sex crimes are typically more serious than Tier 1 offenses. For example, certain violent felonies, sex crimes against disabled victims, rape, offenses involving minors under the age of 14, and subsequent convictions of sex offenses may fall be considered Tier 2 crimes. If you want to pursue a sex offender registry removal request for a Tier 2 offense, you must wait 20 years before you can initiate this process.

Tier 3 Convictions (Highest Level)

The most violent or severe sex crimes fall under the Tier 3 category. Convictions for Tier 3 offenses require lifetime registration on the Sex Offender Registry. Tier 3 crimes include kidnapping during the commission of rape, sex trafficking children, felony sexual battery, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and other forceful acts of sexual violence. It’s important to recognize that there may be some instances (albeit rare) in which a Tier 3 offender may seek registration removal, but the court must determine that they do not pose a significant safety risk to the public if the court grants their request.

How to Seek a Sex Offender Registry Removal Request

First, you should recognize how critical it is to work with a seasoned criminal defense attorney when navigating this process. You and your attorney will need to provide proof of current registration as a sex offender (which you may get from the registering law enforcement agency). You also need to identify all of the law enforcement agencies with which you have registered during the entire period since conviction. This information is attached to a petition which is served on the appropriate law enforcement agencies and district attorney offices. If all this is done correctly, the law enforcement agency has 60 days after receiving your petition to report on your eligibility for registration removal to the court and district attorney. Once the district attorney’s office receives the eligibility report from law enforcement, it has 60 days in which to request a hearing.

Hearings are not required in all cases, meaning the court may grant your request as long as it determines that you have met all of the requirements and that removing your name from the sex offender registry would not jeopardize public safety. If the court deems a hearing necessary, you may be required to attend this legal proceeding, where the court will evaluate your case and issue its ruling to deny or grant your petition. If the court denies your request, it’s important to recognize that you have the right to initiate a new petition, but you must do so after one year (and within five years for Tier 1 applicants) from the date of denial.

The Benefits of Working With a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

Navigating the California criminal justice system can be confusing, overwhelming, and intimidating. However, you should recognize that you do not have to go through the sex offender registry removal request process on your own. Working with a knowledgeable and trusted Los Angeles County lawyer can give you the clarity and confidence you need to move through each step of the process. Your attorney can answer your questions, address your concerns, and identify the most efficient path forward to help you achieve your goals. Now is not the time to leave your future up to chance—contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer today to discuss your case.

If you need help filing a request to remove your name from the sex offender registry in Los Angeles County, call Wegman & Levin today at (818) 908-4000 to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney.

Michael M. Levin, Esq.

Michael M. Levin is an experienced attorney who has been in private practice as a criminal defense lawyer for over 25 years. He has conducted numerous jury trials in cases ranging from DUI to capital murder. Read More

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