We have all made mistakes at some point in our lives. While many people learn from their lapses in judgment and move forward with greater clarity, others may face significant barriers that prevent them from moving on and enjoying a productive life. For example, those convicted of a sex-related offense are often required to register as sex offenders for the remaining duration of their lifetimes, even after they complete all of the other terms of their sentences. When your name appears on this publicly available list, you will likely face substantial limitations to your housing and employment opportunities. Unfortunately, this permanent stain on your name and reputation can make it nearly impossible to start anew and enjoy your life, even though you have already served time or otherwise paid the price for the offense.
However, California recently passed new legislation allowing those convicted of certain sex crimes to petition the court for the removal of their names from the sex offender registry after a definitive period of time. This post will explore the impact of the new three-tiered approach that California uses for sex offenses and how working with a knowledgeable Los Angeles County criminal defense attorney is critical in helping you in your effort to have your name removed from the sex offender registry for good.
Understanding the Three-Tier System for Sex Offenses in California
Before 2021, those convicted of sex crimes in California were required to register as sex offenders on a publicly available list. Once added to the registry, their names became a permanent fixture and could not be removed. However, California amended these statutes to create a three-tiered system, classifying sex crimes into three levels. Those convicted of a Tier 1 or Tier 2 offense can petition the court to have their names removed from the sex offender registry after a specified amount of time, provided they meet all of the eligibility requirements.
Tier 1 Sex Offenses
Tier 1 applies to those who are considered low-risk offenders. Sexual battery, indecent exposure, and other misdemeanor sex crimes fall under the Tier 1 category. Under California’s amended laws, the names of Tier 1 offenders must appear on the sex offender registry for ten years before the defendants may seek a removal request with the court.
Tier 2 Sex Crimes
Sex crimes that typically fall under Tier 2 include sexual assault, offenses involving minors, and other acts that are considered more serious than Tier 1 offenses. Defendants are allowed to seek removal from the sex offender registry after 20 years, as long as they fulfill the additional eligibility requirements.
Tier 3 Offenses
The most serious and violent sex crimes are considered Tier 3 offenses. Aggravated sexual assault, child pornography, and sex trafficking children are a few examples of crimes that fall under the umbrella of Tier 3. Those convicted of Tier 3 offenses face permanent registration on the sex offender list, rendering them ineligible for removal.
How to Initiate the Removal Request
If you have completed the time requirement for a Tier 1 offense (10 years) or a Tier 2 offense (20 years), you have the right to petition the court to have your name removed from the sex offender registry. It’s essential to recognize that you must fulfill other requirements before filing your petition. For instance, you must be able to demonstrate that you are not facing any pending criminal charges against you, that you are not in police custody, and that you are not on parole, probation, or supervised release. Provided you meet these criteria, you may move forward with your request.
This process can be confusing and challenging to navigate without the assistance of an attorney, so enlist the guidance of a trusted and knowledgeable Los Angeles County criminal defense lawyer to ensure that you move through each step as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Your attorney will help you locate and complete a petition, then file it with the registering law enforcement agency and the district attorney in the county where the petition was filed. If the offense occurred in a different county, you would also need to file the petition with the law enforcement agency and district attorney in that county.
After the Court Receives Your Petition For Registry Removal
Once the court receives your completed petition, it will review the information and determine whether to deny or grant the request. The court may also request a hearing to discuss the request, during which it will assess the potential safety risk the petitioner may pose to the public if the petition is granted. Under California Penal Code Section 290.5(a)(3), “In determining whether to order continued registration, the court shall consider: the nature and facts of the registerable offense; the age and number of victims; whether any victim was a stranger at the time of the offense (known to the offender for less than 24 hours); criminal and relevant noncriminal behavior before and after conviction for the registerable offense; the time period during which the person has not reoffended; successful completion, if any, of a Sex Offender Management Board-certified sex offender treatment program; and the person’s current risk of sexual or violent reoffense.” The court will weigh the information presented in the petition and provided during the hearing to determine whether to deny or grant the request for sex offender registration removal.
Trusted Legal Guidance When You Need It Most
If you are ready to leave your past behind you and move on to enjoy a brighter future, having your name removed from the sex offender registry is essential. This process can be challenging and intimidating to navigate, so work with a caring and dedicated criminal defense attorney who can represent your best interests and advocate for your brighter future. Together, you and your lawyer can work to free you from the mistakes of your past, allowing you to enjoy the fresh start you deserve.
If you need help petitioning the court to remove your name from a sex offender registry, call Wegman & Levin today at (818) 980-4000 to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled and knowledgeable Los Angeles County criminal defense attorney.