SB 384 and SB 145: Changes to Sex Offender Registration Laws Coming in 2021
As of January 1, 2021, California has made serious changes to its Sex offender registration laws originally set in 2017 by SB 384. SB 384 created a three-tiered sex offender registration system that no longer required lifetime registration for most sexual offenses. Under Penal Code 290, California law requires that people convicted of certain sex crimes must register as a sex offender. Convicted sex offenders must register with the local law enforcement agency annually within 5 days of their birthday, and within 5 days upon moving residences. Additional restrictions regarding the residency of a sex offender may also be imposed. Whether a person will have their sex offender registration requirement terminated will depend on several factors including, but not limited to, the exact offense the registrant was convicted of and the fulfillment of any requirements imposed on them according to their tier or sentencing.
The new tiered registration system allows state officials to evaluate petitions to for the removal of registrants from the registry starting in July of 2021. The three tiers of the registry created by SB 384 are now:
- Tier one is for people convicted of the lowest level sex offenses including misdemeanor sexual battery or indecent exposure. A person who is on tier one will have to register as a sex offender for at least ten years. If convicted in juvenile court, the mandatory registration period is five years.
- Tier two is for people convicted of mid-level sex offenses, including lewdness with a minor under 14, and non-forced sodomy with a minor under 14 years old. A person on this tier will have to register as a sex offender for at least twenty years. If convicted in juvenile court, the mandatory registration period is ten years.
- Tier three is for those convicted of the most serious sex offenses including rape (in most cases), lewdness with a minor by force or fear, sex trafficking children, sex crimes against children 10 and younger, and repeated sex crimes. A person on this tier will have to register as a sex offender for life. However, if a tier-three registrant is designated as tier three solely due to their risk assessment level and not their offense, the registrant may petition for termination of their sex offender registration requirement after at least 20 years from release from custody on the registrant's registrable offense.
Offenders will not automatically have their registration requirements removed from the registry once their tier-based term has been completed. Registrants must continue to register until after their petition to remove the requirement is approved. A person must go through a petition process for removal to even be considered. SB 384 allows registrants to file a petition in the superior court or juvenile court in their county of residence for termination of their California sex offender registration requirement upon the expiration of their mandated minimum registration period. It is up to the court whether to grant or deny the petitioner's motion to be removed from the sex offender registry. Upon receiving a petition, the state has 60 days to review it.
Considerations for Determining if a Registrant has Completed their Mandatory Registration Period
Pursuant to Penal Code section 290(e) as added by SB 384, “the minimum time period for the completion of the required registration period in tier one or two commences on the date of release from incarceration, placement, or commitment, including any related civil commitment on the registerable offense.”
Furthermore, if a registrant has any other subsequent period of incarceration, placement, or commitment, including subsequent civil commitment which leads to conviction, adjudication, or revocation of probation or parole, the minimum time for their completion of the required registration period will be tolled.
If a registrant is convicted of the misdemeanor of failing to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act, the minimum time period for which they must register shall be extended by one year for each misdemeanor conviction without regard to the actual time served in custody for the conviction. Similarly, if a registrant is convicted of the felony of failing to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act, the minimum time period for which they must register shall be extended by three years for each felony conviction without regard to the actual time served in custody for the conviction.
If a registrant is subsequently convicted of another offense requiring registration pursuant to Penal Code section 290(e), the registrant will have to start a new minimum time period of registration to complete the registration requirement for the applicable tier. The new time period will commence upon that person's release from incarceration, placement, or commitment, including any related civil commitment. If the subsequent conviction requiring registration pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act occurs prior to an order to terminate the registrant from the registry, the new minimum time period of required registration will be determined according with the highest tier associated with the convictions.
When and How can an Offender Petition to Terminate their Registration Requirements
On or after July 1, 2021, on or after the registrant's next birthday following the expiration of a registrant's mandated minimum registration period, registrants who meet the mandated minimum requirements may petition the superior court or juvenile court in the county in which they reside. An individual who is registering solely for a juvenile adjudication will petition the juvenile court. An individual registering for an adult conviction of a sex offense, even if that person also registers for a juvenile adjudication, will petition the superior court. Registrants must initiate the petition process by completing the petition forms, requesting proof of current registration from their individual registering law enforcement agencies, filing their petitions, and serving copies of their filed petitions on the required parties. If a registrant needs assistance, they may contact an attorney who can help.
The Sin Lawyers here are keeping a close watch on the registry petition requirements and stand ready to assist you.