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Sex Offender Registration
Requirements & Tiered System

California Sex Offender Registration Laws are found at California Penal Code Section 290 & PC 290.5. This article deals with the duty to register as a sex offender, how to register as a sex offender, removal from the duty to register as a sex offender and the punishment for failure to register as a sex offender.


For application to be removed from the sex offender registration requirement, this article discusses the new three-tiered sex offender registration requirements, removal from the Megan’s law website, and/or removal after a certificate of rehabilitation.


PC 290 requires mandatory sex offender registration for defendants convicted of any sex offense listed in Penal Code 290(c). Those crimes include sexual battery, child molestation (lewd acts), rape, child pornography, pandering, pimping, indecent exposure, sexual assault, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration by force, sexual annoyance of minors, and more.

There are more than a hundred criminal charges that require sex offender registration upon under PC 290. Most registration crimes are categorized as felonies but there are a few misdemeanor sex crimes that are also sex register offenses under PC 290.

Registration requirements: PC 290 crimes carry lifetime sex offender registration requirements. This lifetime rule may be modified in some cases under new California law (SB 384). However, until the defendant changes his or her registration requirements per SB 384, the requirements to register as a sex offender remains a lifetime duty. In addition to lifetime registration as a sex offender, the defendant's information might made available to the public on the internet (subject to possible removal per PC 290.046 removal from the duty to have information posted on Megan’s website).

Megan’s Website Information

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has different categories of registered sex offender website disclosures. Some convictions of sex offenses require more disclosure than others. Information that may be disclosed includes name, photograph, physical description including gender and race, date of birth, criminal history, and ZIP Code or home address. The duty to disclose information on the sex offender registration website could be modified by petition in some cases (PC 290.046).

Information about registered sex offenders in the “undisclosed category” may not be disclosed on the DOJ website. These offenders must still register with local law enforcement agencies, however their information is not public. For more information on what information may be removed from the sex offender website, or how to remove such information, see PC 290.046 or contact our sex crimes attorneys for a free consultation and case review.

How to Register Per PC 290

A defendant must appear in person to register with the police department of the city in which he/she resides. Registration must be completed within five working days after release from custody or placed on probation. A person also has only five working days to update sex offender registration if he or she changes his or her residence. The defendant's criminal defense attorney may assist in the registration process.

If a defendant is currently homeless, he or she must still register as a sex offender within five working days of release from custody. Rather than including his or her address when registering, the defendant must register as a transient. The defendant must then continue to register as a transient sex offender every thirty days thereafter until he or she finds a residence.

A sex offender registrant must update his or her registration annually within five working days of his or her birthday (290.012). Those sex offenders who are deemed sexually violent predators must update their registration no less than every 90 days (290.011).

Registration under PC 290 includes photographing and fingerprinting the defendant, recording the name, address and telephone number of the defendant and his or her employer, and recording the license plate number of any vehicle registered to the defendant (PC 290(e)(2)).

Note: Some juveniles are required to register as sex offenders upon release from the California Youth Authority (CYA) or Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). However, registrants whose cases were heard in juvenile court cannot have their information publicly disclosed.

Failure to Register: Willful failure to register as a sex offender after conviction of a qualifying PC 290 crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. (PC 290(g)(2)) depending on whether the underlying PC 290 conviction involved a misdemeanor or a felony.

Note: Willful failure to register as a sex offender is a crime, not just a violation of probation. This means that even if a defendant is finished with any parole or probation requirements for the crime in which he or she was made to register he or she may still be in violation of a new crime (See Failure to Register Per PC 290).

Length of Registration: New California law provides for a three-tiered system of sex offender registration. Under the new law, some PC 290 registrants may petition the court for removal of the duty to register as a sex offender if the defendant’s conviction falls within a certain “tier.” Some registrants will not be allowed to petition the court for removal from the duty to register as sex offender because of the seriousness of his or her particular sex crimes conviction. In addition, by receiving a Certificate of Rehabilitation, which is a certified court document stating that a person is sufficiently rehabilitated, some persons will be relieved of his or her duty to register (see Certificate of Rehabilitation). Also, some sex offender registrants may have his or her information removed from the Megan’s law sex offender website (PC 290.046).

Note: An expungement of a PC 290 conviction does not relieve a person from the duty to register as a sex offender (PC 1203.4). Also, a juvenile’s criminal conviction for certain sex offenses, which is later sealed, does not relieve the defendant from the duty to register as a sex offender. In fact, many sex crimes are not eligible for expungement (PC 290.1).

New Law: starting in January 2021, California will adopt a three-tiered sex offender registration requirement. Any convicted of a sex offense described in penal code section 290(c) will be required to register as a sex offender for either ten (10) years, twenty (20) years, or life (SB 384). The new three-tiered sex offender registration requirement applies to anyone currently required to register as a sex offender and anyone required to register as a sex offender after the new law becomes operational.

Per SB 384, sex offender registration will be divided in tiered requirements. Lower-level sex offense convictions will require a defendant to register as a sex offender for ten (10) years; mid-level sex offense convictions will required the defendant to register as a sex offender for twenty (20) years; sexually violent predatory conviction will required the defendant to register as a sex offender for life.

Petition: California’s new tiered system for sex offenders requires the registrant to petition the court for removal from the duty to register as a sex offender. Removal from PC 290 registration requirements are not automatic. The court may deny the petitioner’s petition for removal for good cause. If the court denies the petitioner’s petition for removal from the duty to register as a sex offender the court must state the good reasons for denial on the record and allow an opportunity for the petitioner to refile his or her petition after a certain amount of time governed by law and dependent on several factors, including the classification of sex crimes, the number of violations for failure to registers, and more.

Note: Petitioners who do not qualify for removal from the duty to register as a sex offender after a certain passage of time cannot apply for removal (Life registration sex offender); however, a petitioner who is informed that his or her petition does not qualify for reclassification under the new tiered system should consult a sex crime attorney to verify that his or her classification is correct.

Juveniles: Defendants who were juveniles at the time of conviction for a qualifying sex offense will be ordered to register for five (5) or ten (10) years as a sex offender depending on the classification of his or her conviction (S 384). For more information on removal from the duty to register as a sex offender stemming from a sex crime committed as a juvenile contact our sex crimes attorneys for a free consultation.

Important: Sex offender registrants must continue to register for life until a court of law orders new requirements for the registrant pursuant to the new sex offender registration requirements law (SB 384). Failure to register as required is a crime (PC 290).

Filing for PC 290 Removal: The petition must initiate the removal from the duty to register as a sex offender under the new tiered system (SB 385). The petition requires a notice of the petitioner’s duty to register from the law enforcement agency where the petitioner ordinarily updates his or her registration. In addition, the petitioner will be required to show the court that he or she has properly filed the petition, served the appropriate parties (DA, law enforcement, etc.), and that proper supporting evidence and declaration are attached to the petition. If the court grants the petition the court will notify the Department of Justice (DOJ) of that result. The petitioner should keep copies of his or her new order(s). The whole process should take several months. A sex crimes criminal defense attorney can be extremely helpful in the process of removal from the duty to register as a sex offender pursuant to California’s new tiered system.

For information on sex offender registration, defense to sex crimes, or removal from the duty to register as a sex offender, contact our sex crimes attorneys today for a fee consultation. Our experienced sex crimes criminal defense team has helped hundreds of defendants charged with sex crimes. Call today!


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PC 290 Related Laws

PC 290(b): Every person described in subdivision (c), for the rest of his or her life while residing in California, or while attending school or working in California, as described in Sections 290.002 and 290.01, shall be required to register with the chief of police of the city in which he or she is residing, …, with the chief of police of a campus of the University of California, the California State University, or community college if he or she is residing upon the campus or in any of its facilities, within five working days of coming into, or changing his or her residence within, any city, county, or city and county, or campus in which he or she temporarily resides… (PC 290(b) (Abbrev.).

PC 290(c): The following persons shall be required to register: Any person who, since July 1, 1944, has been or is hereafter convicted in any court in this state or in any federal or military court of a violation of Section 187 committed in the perpetration, or an attempt to perpetrate, rape or any act punishable under Section 286, 288, 288a, or 289, Section 207 or 209 committed with intent to violate Section 261, 286, 288, 287a, or 289, Section 220, except assault to commit mayhem, subdivision (b) and (c) of Section 236.1, Section 243.4, paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), or (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 261, paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 262 involving the use of force or violence for which the person is sentenced to the state prison, Section 264.1, 266, or 266c, subdivision (b) of Section 266h, subdivision (b) of Section 266i, Section 266j, 267, 269, 285, 286, 288, 288a, 288.3, 288.4, 288.5, 288.7, 289, or 311.1, subdivision (b), (c), or (d) of Section 311.2, Section 311.3, 311.4, 311.10, 311.11, or 647.6, former Section 647a, subdivision (c) of Section 653f, subdivision 1 or 2 of Section 314, any offense involving lewd or lascivious conduct under Section 272, or any felony violation of Section 288.2; any statutory predecessor that includes all elements of one of the above-mentioned offenses; or any person who since that date has been or is hereafter convicted of the attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above-mentioned offenses.

Related Articles

  • PC 288(a) Lewd Act Upon a Child Under 14

  • PC 288(b) Lewd Act with a Child with Force

  • PC 288.7 Sexual Conduct with a Child Under 10

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