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Sex Offender Law Changes in California: Tiered Registration

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How Does the Tiered Sex Offender Registration System Work in CA?

More than 100,000 people are registered sex offenders in California, and their lives may change for the better because of a new California law.

Effective January 1, 2021, many registered sex offenders in California are no longer required to be registered for a lifetime under SB 384. Prior to 2021, almost all convicted sex offenders had to register in the California Sex Offender Registry for life, but that has recently changed. Depending on factors such as the type of crime and risk scores for registered sex offenders, certain adults may be allowed to register in one of three tiers:

  • Tier one: 10-year sex offender registration
  • Tier two: 20-year sex offender registration
  • Tier three: Lifetime sex offender registration

Juveniles convicted of sex crimes who meet registration requirements may have to register for 5 years under tier one or 10 years under tier 2.

The tiered registration system is expected to help decrease the number of offenders in the registry, allowing law enforcement officials and members of the general public to focus on high-risk individuals. Before tiered registration was implemented in January of this year, it was difficult for law enforcement to tell who posed a risk to the community and who didn’t.

Research indicates that offenders who spent 20 years in their communities with no new offenses were much less likely to commit another sex crime, even if they were the highest-risk offenders at one point. In other words, the longer a person is in the community without committing new crimes, the less likely they are to ever commit a crime again.

So, how do you know which tier you’ll be placed on?

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) will evaluate factors such as your criminal history and risk level to determine which tier you’ll be assigned to. You may be placed on a “to be decided” status until the Department figures out which tier to place you on, and your tier will appear on the Megan’s Law website after January 1, 2022.

However, you won’t be automatically removed from the California Sex Offender Registry. Starting July 1, 2021, you can petition the superior court or juvenile court in the county in which you live if you meet the mandatory minimum requirements to be placed on tier one or tier two. The court may accept or deny your petition.

As such, you will greatly benefit from the help of a criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney can guide you through your tier options and help you petition the court to be assigned to tier one or tier two. A good attorney will protect your rights and ensure you receive a fair shot at avoiding lifetime sex offender registration. Remember, you may only petition the court to be designated a tier one or tier two sex offender starting July 1, 2020.

If you have any questions about how this new tier system may impact you or you need legal representation to help you petition the court, let us know. Contact our lawyers at (805) 467-6060 to learn more!