California

Senate Bill 384: How Adults Can Terminate Their Sex Offender Status

May 05, 2021 by James Eric in California  Criminal Defense  
Thumbnail for: Senate Bill 384: How Adults Can Terminate Their Sex Offender Status

Can You Terminate Your Sex Offender Status?

Yes you can!

Just 5 months ago, California changed its sex offender legislation. And that’s positive news for everyone.

You see, California’s sex offender legislation has been around for 70 years. It’s antiquated by modern standards, especially with improved law enforcement tools, and shifting social opinions of what counts as sexual offense.

Plus, in the old system, convicted adults were assigned sex offender status for life – without accounting for severity of their crimes.

Not only is this unfair to most offenders. But it’s also ineffective (for reasons you’ll see below).

However, there’s a tier system that registers convicts for a limited time span – giving most convicted offenders a chance to clear their records.

How it Works

Before registering an offender into a tier, a risk assessment is given. The goal is to evaluate how likely someone will commit the same crime in the future.

The higher the risk the assessment, the longer a convict is registered.

Sex Offender List Removal

How Long Do Registrations Last?

This brings us to the tier system.

Adult offenders have 3 tiers they can be assigned to. They are as follows:

  • Tier 1 – Registered for 10 years
  • Tier 2 – Registered for 20 years
  • Tier 3 – Lifetime

How Gets Assigned to Each Tier?

The 1st tier is reserved for the least severe offenses. This category includes most offenders, with crimes involving misdemeanor indecent exposure and misdemeanor sexual battery.

The 2nd tier is assigned to more serious offenses – examples being lewd acts with minors under 14 years of age (unforced acts).

The 3rd tier is made for severe crimes, such as rape and human trafficking. They also include repeat sex offenses, and crimes against children under 10. Registration here last for life.

Are the New Changes Positive?

Absolutely. And they’re not just positive to convicted offenders. It’s a positive change for law enforcement too.

One of the problems with the old system was inefficiency. Every sex offender had equal priority, regardless of their risk levels and track record. This made it difficult for law enforcement to prioritize dangerous offenders over minor ones.

In fact, according to Senator Scott Wiener, law enforcement officers spent over 60% of their work time on low-risk paperwork!

Benefits for Low-Risk Convicts

Previously all sex offenders were assigned their status for life.

They also had to go through much bureaucratic hassle so long as they were registered.

Example: Residence Updates

Registered offenders were constantly required to update their residence information with law enforcement.

The problem was especially pronounced with transients (those having no permanent residence).

Those individuals were required to update their residency with law enforcement every 30 days (at most). Also, individuals must report to law agencies if they’ve been present in a location for more than 5 days.

This also extends to moving out of state.

Individuals leaving California need to report to their local law enforcement of their intentions to move within the next 5 days.

They also need to inform law enforcement before intending to move back into California.

Megan’s Database Removal

Another benefit is a reduced registration time in Megan’s Law database.

Megan’s Law is a public database for sex offenders. It’s extracted from the private database based of the California Department of Justice (which has 120,000+ registered offenders).

Being registered there means any individual can see a registrant’s information. Those may include financial services, job interviewees, travel authorities, etc.

It makes mobility harder for an offender, both socially and physically. Plus, Megan’s database does sometimes include detailed identifying information (like their address).

In the older system, this could put adult convicts at risk of being targeted. So the less time a minor offender is registered publicly, the better.

Speaking of Unfair Convictions

According to Senator Wiener, California’s history has been rife with politically and socially motivated wrongful charges. One example of that is the LGBT community (source).

Those wrongful convictions meant lifetime registration for innocent LGBT individuals.

With the new tier system however, many wrongfully charged individuals can change and clear up their status.

How to Terminate Sex Offender Status

For adults, there are multiple ways to go about this. They are:

  • Petitioning
  • Getting your case dismissed (expungement)
  • A rehabilitation certificate

Petition

This option still isn’t in effect. The state of California plans on introducing this by July 1st this year.

Petitioning allows offenders to get their sex offender status removed at their local superior court.

This option is available to tier 1 and 2 registrants only. The individual should not have any pending charges against them when petitioning their status.

Also, this option only applies to individuals who aren’t on probation, parole, or supervised release.

Expungement

Getting your case dismissed means having your criminal record cleared. It takes away the charge and conviction.

However, it does not remove your status as a sex offender in California. But it does make it easier for you to petition with a court later.

This option isn’t available to individuals convicted of lewd acts with children, or sexual abuse of children (14 of lower). It’s also not available to offenders whose charge involves oral sex.

Also, rape crimes against minors (16 or younger) make a person ineligible for expungement.

Rehabilitation Certificate

This is a third option, and unlike record expungement, and individual does not have to register as an offender.

Individuals can only apply within 7 to 10 years after being released from custody. They can also apply while on probation or parole.

Additional requirements include:

  • Individual needs to have been in California for 5 years prior to submitting their application
  • Individual cannot be on probation for other felonies
  • Individual should have not been incarcerated since their case dismissal
  • The court should have expunged their case

Do note that rehabilitation certificates are denied for the same charges that expungements are denied.

Need You Status Cleared?

Consider the above as a guide on how to get your status cleared.

It’s highly preferable that you call a lawyer for legal device. Contact Esfandi Law Group for a free consultation, and get started!

Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.

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