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3 Ways to Terminate Sex Offender Registration Requirements in CA (2020 update)

Updated: Nov 13

There are three different ways for a person who is required to register as a sex offender in California to have that requirement terminated.

Important: The following article is provided as general information related to the topic of terminating sex offender registration requirements in California. This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. There are many nuances and exceptions to these general rules that are not included in this article for the sake of brevity. In addition, the facts of every criminal case, and the situation of every criminal defendant, is different; therefore, this information should be viewed only as general information.


Three Options for Sex Offender Registration Requirement Termination:

  • 1) By petition to the court for relief of the duty to register as a sex offender pursuant to PC 290. This is new California law (SB 384);


  • 2) By petition for certificate of rehabilitation (PC 4852); and


  • 3) By petition for removal or exclusion from California’s sex offender website, also known as Megan’s Law Website (PC 290.46).

Note: A successful petition for removal from California’s sex offender website does not relieve the petitioner from her sex offender registration requirements; rather, a successful petition under PC 290.46 relieves the petitioner from her duty to disclose her sex offender registration status on California’s sex offender website. In other words, if the petitioner is successful in her PC 290.46 petition, her status as a sex offender registrant will not be disclosed to the public.


Option 1) Petition for Termination of Sex Offender Registration Requirement under California’s New Three-Tiered Sex Offender Registration System:


California recently enacted a new law that affects the length of time that a convicted sex offender must register as such pursuant to PC 290 (See PC 290 Registration Requirements). The new law is found in California Senate Bill 384 and takes effect in January of 2021. Essentially, the new law creates a three-tiered system of sex offender registration. The three tiers are divided as follows:


  • Tier One: Ten year sex offender registration requirement. This tier is reserved for sex crimes that are the least serious of the sex crimes that otherwise require sex offender registration, including: misdemeanor sexual battery (PC 243.4), indecent exposure (PC 314.1), misdemeanor lewd acts with a minor over fourteen (PC 288(c)), misdemeanor sexually annoying a child (PC 647.6), crimes for which the court mandated sex offender registration pursuant to PC 290.006, and more.


  • Tier Two: Twenty year sex offender registration requirement. This tier is reserved for sex crimes that are more serious than tier one level sex offenses, but not as serious as tier three level sex offenses, including: lewd and lascivious acts on a minor less than fourteen years of age (PC 288(a)), oral copulation on a minor less than fourteen years of age without force or violence (PC 287 Crimes), sodomy of a minor less than fourteen years of age without force or violence (PC 286 Crimes), incest (PC 285), and more.


  • Tier Three: Life-time sex offender registration requirement. This tier is reserved for defendant’s convicted of the most serious and violent sex offense, including: Sex trafficking of a child (PC 236.1 Crimes), sodomy by force or violence (PC 286 Crimes), aggravated rape (PC 261 Crimes), sexual penetration by force on a minor (PC 289 Crimes), and more.

Note: The official classification of any sex crime is to be released in January of 2021. The classifications above represents the projected classifications based on the severity of the crimes as they are presently defined under PC 1192.7, 667.5, and 1170(h).


Juveniles & SB 384: SB 384 creates a two-tiered system for juvenile sex offenders. For the most serious of the sex crimes enumerated under PC 290 (list of registerable sex offenses), the new law requires a ten year sex offender registration requirement for juveniles. All other enumerated sex crimes require a five year sex offender registration requirement for juveniles.


Per SB 384, a defendant who is convicted of a sex crime enumerated in tier two may petition the court for removal of her requirement to register as a sex offender after twenty years from the date of her conviction or release from prison, whichever one is most recent in time. Under the same law, a person who is convicted of a sex crime enumerated in tier one may petition the court for removal of her requirement to register as a sex offender after ten years from the date of her conviction or release from prison, whichever one is most recent in time.


PC 290 registration requirements do not terminate automatically after the minimum time requirements are met under SB 384. California’s new SB 384 law requires the petitioner to petition for removal after the expiration of the minimum registration period. In other words, a convicted sex offender is not automatically removed from her duty to registration as a sex offender under the new law; rather, she must convince the court that she deserves this relief before the court will grant her petition.


Note: The period of sex offender registration is extended for defendant’s who suffered a subsequent criminal conviction during the registration period. A misdemeanor conviction adds one year to the registration period and a felony conviction adds three years to the registration period. In addition, the registration period is tolled (stopped) during any incarceration period based on a criminal conviction subsequent to the defendant’s sex crime conviction, unless that incarceration period did not result in a new criminal conviction (dismissal or acquittal of the criminal charges).


A petition for removal of sex offender registration requirements under SB 384 should be handled with the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer. Period. As stated, this new SB 384 law is complicated and replete with many exceptions to the general rules. This make navigating the petition’s required procedure difficult…even for lawyers.


For example, a successful petition under the new law requires the petitioner to submit a psychological evaluation for sex offenders called SARATSO. The SARATSO evaluation must make use of the defendant’s criminal history, but the defendant’s criminal history cannot be accessed by most private psychologist who administer the test, and the defendant is not legally entitled to share independent proof of that information from a credible Live Scan report. This is only one of the many obstacles that a non-attorney faces when attempting to draft a petition for removal of the sex offender registration requirement under the new law. In short, contact a criminal defense lawyers for assistance with your SB 384 petition.


Note: The good news is that the petitioner is not usually barred from reapplying for relief under SB 384 after an unsuccessful attempt. The court will usually allow the petitioner to refile her SB 384 petition after a certain period of time passes from her prior attempt (3-5 years).


SB 384 Petition Process: The legal process for applying to remove sex offender registration requirements pursuant to SB 384 include: a) Draft, timely serve, and properly file the PC 385 petition with requisite forms and declarations, b) submit proof of sex offender registration status from law enforcement to the court and all interested parties, c) present SARATSO evaluation results to the court and all interested parties, d) present evidence and argument at the hearing on the petition, and more. Petitioners seeking relief pursuant to SB 384 should consult with a criminal defense attorney familiar with this practice.


Option 2: Petitioner for Certificate of Rehabilitation (PC 4852):


California has created laws to assist convicted defendants restore certain rights and privileges that were lost after a criminal conviction. These laws include the right of a criminally-convicted defendant to petition for an expungement of her criminal record or to petition for a certificate that states she is rehabilitated from her prior criminal behavior (certificate of rehabilitation). An expungement of a criminal conviction, by itself, will not relieve a convicted sex offender from her duty to register accordingly; however, an expunged criminal record, coupled with a successful petition for certificate of rehabilitation, can relieve some registered sex offenders of the duty to register.


Note: The granting of a certificate of rehabilitation is not available in every sex crimes case; however, for sex crimes convictions that are not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation, the request for a California pardon is available. The granting of a pardon by the California governor will also allow a person to terminate her obligation to register as a sex offender in California; but, prevailing on a pardon petition is much more difficult than prevailing on a petition for certificate of rehabilitation.


A certificate of rehabilitation requires the registered sex offender to first have her criminal conviction expunged (PC 4852). Not all sex crimes are capable of being expunged, including the following sex crimes: PC 269 (Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child); PC 286(c) Sodomy by Force; PC 287(c) Oral Copulation by Force; PC 288 Lewd Acts on a Minor; PC 288.5 Continuance Sexual Abuse of a Child; and more. For these sex crimes, the convicted sex offender will have to apply for a California pardon in order to have her required sex offender registration requirements terminated (See Expungement & California Pardons).


The petition for certificate of rehabilitation is less complicated than the petition for similar relief under California’s new three-tiered sex offender registration system (See above). Also, a certificate of rehabilitation may be sought before the expiration of the time periods listed under SB 384.


For example, a conviction for the crime of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor under fourteen (PC 288(a)) currently requires the convicted defendant to register as sex offender for life (PC 290(c)). Under California’s new three-tiered sex offender registration system a person convicted of PC 288(a) must wait at least twenty years after her conviction before she can petition the court for termination of her sex offender registration requirements; however, if that same convicted sex offender applies for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon, she might have her sex offender registration requirement terminated after only ten years (See California Certificate of Rehabilitation & Pardon Requirements).


Residency Requirements: An application for a certificate of rehabilitation may only be submitted by persons who meet residency requirements. In other words, the court will not consider a petition for certificate of rehabilitation unless the registered sex offender has lived within the state of California for at least five years. The residency period is longer for some of the more serious sex crimes, such as continuous sexual abuse of a minor (PC 288.5(a)). Compare: There is no residency requirement under California’s new three-tiered sex offender registration system (See SB 384 above).


Note: All certificate of rehabilitation petitions that are granted are automatically submitted as an application for gubernatorial pardon. Therefore, there is no duplication of effort; however, as stated, some sex crimes are not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation. In those cases, a direct pardon to the governor’s officer must be submitted (See Certificate of Rehabilitation and Application for Pardon). These petitions should be completed with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney familiar with this practice.


PC 4852 Legal Process: The legal process for petitioning the court for a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon includes: a) Draft, timely serve, and properly file the PC 4852 petition with requisite forms and declarations, b) submit proof of sex offender registration status from law enforcement to the court and all interested parties, c) submit proof of a positive STATIC99 evaluation, d) submit proof of California residency to the court and all interested parties (minimum residency requirements differ depending on the specific sex offense conviction), e) present evidence and argument at the hearing on the petition, and more. The process for petitioning the court for relief pursuant to PC 4852 usually takes about three months. Petitioners seeking relief pursuant to PC 4852 should seek the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer (For more information, see Certificate of Rehabilitation & Gubernatorial Pardon).


Option 3: Petition for Name Removal or Exclusion from California’s Sex Offender Website:


There is an option for some sex offender registrants to have their sex offender status excluded from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) sex offender website. This option does not terminate the sex offender registrant’s obligation to register as a sex offender; rather, if successful, the sex offender registrant may have her information removed or excluded from California’s Megan’s Law Website (DOJ website). The requirements for exclusion from the Megan’s Law Website are as follows:


  • PC 290.46(d)(1)(A): An offender who is required to register pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act may apply for exclusion from the Internet Web site if he or she demonstrates that the person’s only registerable offense is either of the following:


  • An offense for which the offender successfully completed probation, provided that the sex offender submits to the [DOJ] a certified copy of a probation report, presentencing report, report prepared pursuant to Section 288.1, or other official court document that clearly demonstrates that the offender was the victim’s parent, stepparent, sibling, or grandparent and that the crime did not involve either oral copulation or penetration of the vagina or rectum of either the victim or the offender by the penis of the other or by any foreign object (PC 290.46(d)(1)(A)(i) Abbrev.).


  • An offense for which the offender is on probation at the time of his or her application, provided that the sex offender submits to the [DOJ] a certified copy of a probation report, presentencing report, report prepared pursuant to Section 288.1, or other official court document that clearly demonstrates that the offender was the victim’s parent, stepparent, sibling, or grandparent and that the crime did not involve either oral copulation or penetration of the vagina or rectum of either the victim or the offender by the penis of the other or by any foreign object (PC 290.46(d)(1)(A)(ii) Abbrev.).


Note: An application for exclusion from the DOJ sex offender’s website will be terminated if the applicant commits a criminal offense or a violation of probation during the application process (PC 290.46(d)(1)(B) Paraphrased). Also, California’s new three-tiered sex offender registration law will include law that is intended to slightly modify PC 290.46 applications and qualifications.


PC 290.46 Legal Process: The legal process for petitioning the court for exclusion from California’s sex offender website includes: a) Draft, timely serve, and properly file the PC 290.46 petition with requisite forms and declarations, b) submit proof of sex offender registration status from law enforcement to the court and all interested parties, c) submit proof of a positive SARATSO evaluation, d) submit proof of the required familial relationship between the convicted sex offender and the victim, e) present evidence and argument at the hearing on the petition, and more. The process for petitioning the court for exclusion from the DOJ website pursuant to PC 290.46 usually takes about four months. Petitioners who seek relief pursuant to PC 290.46 should seek the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer.


Note: SARATSO (State Authorized Risk Assessment Tool for Sex Offenders) and STATIC99 are evaluations of convicted sex offenders, which are administered by psychologist who are specially trained to administer these test, in order to determine the evaluated person's likelihood of repeating a sex offense. These evaluations are usually administered and provided by the probation department as part of a sentencing report in a sex crime case (PC 288.1).

To learn more about how a registered sex offender in California might terminate or limit her sex offender registration requirements contact our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today. Our sex crimes attorneys have experience with petitions for certificate of rehabilitation (PC 4852), expungements (PC 1203.4), and petitions for exclusion from the DOJ’s sex offender website (PC 290.46). In addition, we can assist you with finding a private SARATSO or STATIC99 evaluator to complete your petition. Our sex crimes attorneys offer free consultations and we are available every day of the week to assist you. Call today!


909-913-3138


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