When someone is convicted of a criminal offense, they must comply with the corresponding penalties, like serving time in jail, paying fines, or completing mandatory counseling. Once you fulfill the terms of the sentence, you can move forward with your life. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for everyone. Those convicted of certain offenses, classified as sex crimes, must also register as sex offenders on a publicly searchable database. As a registered sex offender, you may face severe barriers to employment, housing, and other freedoms that others take for granted. California law used to require lifetime registration for most sex-related offenses. However, an updated law that went into effect in 2021 created a three-tiered approach to sex offender registration guidelines. Under this amended law, certain offenders may petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry, provided that they meet specific eligibility requirements. The dedicated and experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wegman & Levin are prepared to help you navigate every step of the petitioning process, defending your rights and best interests at every turn.
Understanding California’s Three-Tier System
Prior to 2021, virtually every criminal offense requiring sex offender registration compelled the defendant to register as a sex offender for the duration of their lifetime. Under the amended laws, California recognizes three tiers of sex offender registration.
Tier 1 applies to most misdemeanor sex offenses and certain non-strike felony sex offenses and requires the defendant to register as a sex offender for a period of ten years. Additionally, Tier 1 registrants will no longer have their faces and personal information published online.
Tier 2 covers all serious and/or violent felonies, felony sex offenses in which the victim is disabled, acts of incest, and subsequent convictions for misdemeanor crimes involving the molestation of a minor. Those convicted of Tier 2 qualifying offenses must remain on the sex offender registry for 20 years.
The most serious sex crimes are categorized as Tier 3 offenses and require lifetime registration on the sex offender database. Tier 3 offenses include convictions with a prior violent sex offense, certain internet sex crimes, and sex crimes involving those classified as Sexually Violent Predators.
Petitioning the Court to Terminate Sex Offender Registration
Those whose offenses fall under Tier 1 or Tier 2 have the right to petition for removal from the California sex offender registry. First, it’s important to understand that you must remain on the registry for the entire 10 years (Tier 1 offenses) or 20 years (Tier 2 offenses). There are also additional barriers to overcome once the time requirement is satisfied to remove your name from the sex offender registry. For instance, you must demonstrate that you are a current California resident and are not in police custody or under any kind of probation or parole supervision. You must also show that you are not facing any open criminal charges and provide proof of your current valid sex offender registration.
Once the court receives your sex offender registry removal petition, the District Attorney may request a hearing. During the hearing, the court will focus on public safety considerations. If the court denies your petition out of concern for public safety, you have the right to file a new petition request within one to five years. In some cases, the District Attorney may not request a hearing, and your petition will be granted automatically.
The formalities and procedures involved in petitioning the court can be intimidating and confusing unless you have experience with them. Wegman & Levin is experienced in petitioning for termination of registration, whether you were convicted in California or elsewhere.
Trusted Legal Guidance When You Need It Most
With California’s newly adopted petition system, many people can finally put their mistakes behind them. The skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers at Wegman & Levin are ready to help you move forward into a brighter future. If you need help with California sex offender registry removal, we can help. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options for obtaining the fresh start you deserve.