What You Need to Know About the Sex Offender Registry
Being placed on the sexual offender registry can have serious ramifications on your life. You may miss out on employment opportunities, proper housing, loan applications, and so much more. Even moving and trying to make new friends may not be possible for you, as one search of your name could easily result in your entire criminal record being pulled up for anyone to see. That is why getting removed from the registry is such an important, albeit difficult, process to go through.
The Tiered Sex Registry System
You may have heard that in California the sex registry is temporary, however, that is only true for a percentage of those registered. There are three different tiers to the sex registry, and the amount of time you are required to be registered will depend on which tier you are placed into.
Tier one offenders are required to stay on the list for ten years. Once the decade is up, they are removed from the list and are no longer required to register. This tier is for people convicted of what is considered low-level sexual crimes. If you are convicted of indecent exposure or sexual battery, then you are likely to be placed into tier one.
The second tier doubles the amount of time on the registry, going for 20 years, instead of ten. In order to be placed on tier two, you have to have been convicted of something that is considered more serious than a minor offense, but not have gone as far as rape. For example, you may have been convicted of lewd acts with a minor (someone under the age of 14). Because the victim is a child in this case, the act is considered far more serious than if the same act was performed with an adult.
If you have been placed into tier three, then you will most likely spend your entire life on the sex offender registry. This tier is reserved for people who have been convicted of the worst possible sexual crimes. Any rape conviction, sexual assault of a child, or sex trafficking charges will result in being placed in the tier three sex offender registry.
After being placed on the sex offender registry, whether it be tier one or tier three, you will be facing a lot of limitations in terms of what you are allowed to do and where you are allowed to go. In California, the sex registry is taken very seriously. Anyone registered to the list is required to re-register every year. The registry must be within five days of the person’s birthday or within five days of a change in address. Failing to do so can have serious consequences, including jail time and fines. This constant registration allows for the state to keep a close eye on all convicted sexual offenders, and, in theory, allows for the neighbors of the registered offenders to keep themselves safe.
This means that if you ever move, even temporarily, you must inform the local law enforcement of your new address. On top of that, you must register personally, as in you must go to the station in person in order to provide your current location. If you are on the sex offender registry but do not have an address, as in you are a transient, you must register every 30 days with your new location. If you have been deemed a “sexually violent predator,” which is a label given if you have committed a sexually violent crime, as well as if you are deemed to have a mental heal issue that makes you a danger to others, then you will have to register every 90 days, as opposed to just every year. This means that you will have to register four times a year, potentially for the rest of your life.
In 1996, Megan’s Law was passed by the federal government following the murder of Megan Kanka by the hands of a man on the sex offender registry. Up until that point, the registry was used by law enforcement exclusively and not for the public. The passing of the law made the registry a public list. Each state has its own mandates on what information must be on the list. In California, sex offenders must include:
- Their name
- A recent photo
- Any identifying information, such as your height and weight, eye color, obvious scars, and tattoos
- The offenses that you were convicted of
This information means that your life is an open book, and anyone who chooses to look you up, or even just look through the sex registry in their area, can find out about what may be the most shameful chapter of your life. However, there may be ways for you to end your time on the sex offender registry early.
Getting Off of the Sex Offender Registry
Getting removed from the sex offender registry before your time is up is not an easy task. However, with a skilled attorney by your side, it may be possible. The first option is to try and get your case dismissed after you have completed your jail/prison sentence or your probation. This allows you to take the conviction off of your record, however, you may still be required to register as a sex offender. This option is not available for everyone, and if you committed a serious sexual crime, then you will likely not be granted this privilege.
The second option is to obtain a California certificate of rehabilitation. This does not take your conviction off of your record, but it does allow you to be removed from the sex offender registry. There are a few requirements when it comes to getting your hands on a certificate of rehabilitation.
- Your case has already been expunged
- You have not been incarcerated since the dismissal of your original conviction
- You are not currently on probation for another felony
- You have lived in California for at least five years before you sent in your application
Again, this is not an option for those who have been convicted of violent sexual crimes. If you have been sorted into tier three, then chances are you will not be able to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation. However, a Governor’s pardon can be implemented no matter what your crime is. The pardon will allow you to leave the registry, whatever your crime was.
Getting an expungement, a certificate, or a pardon is incredibly difficult, especially if you are attempting to do so on your own. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, our Los Angeles sex crimes defense attorneys have worked with people convicted of sexual crimes before and are fully prepared to help you get removed from the sex offender registry. For expert criminal defense aid, call our firm at (213) 688-0460. We are ready and waiting to help.