California's Sex Offender Registration Act
Under the Sex Offender Registration Act, those convicted of certain offenses in California must register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. This is also called the PC 290 requirement. This is a large burden to bear for committing even one crime. And, under Megan's Law, sex offender registration information is easily accessible by the public online. As a result, sex offenders in California face harsh discrimination and prejudice in the community. They may also face adversity in the job or housing market, and their reputation can suffer.
It is no wonder why so many Californians who carry the burden of sex offender registration look for ways they can be relieved of this requirement. Having a criminal history is bad enough, but having a history of a certain offense, such as sexual offenses, can haunt you for the rest of your life. Most sex offenders will have to comply with the lifetime requirement to register, but some may be relieved of this requirement upon taking certain steps.
In some cases, having a qualifying conviction dismissed through the process of expungement and then obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Governor's Pardon can relieve select offenders of the burden of registering. To better understand what an expungement can restore for you, let me briefly explain what an expungement does. An expungement does not erase your criminal record. Your criminal case is opened and the plea or verdict is removed through the process of expungement. Your case is then closed and considered dismissed in the “interests of justice.” Your criminal record will still exist and some can still view the history of your case. Having your conviction dismissed can provide many benefits. You can truthfully answer “no” when being asked by most prospective employers if you have been convicted of a crime. You may have your gun rights restored in some cases. You may also be able to be eligible for certain positions or professional licensures you previously were not due to your conviction. For those who carry the burden of sex offender registration for life in California, a dismissed conviction may provide relief of this responsibility if certain further steps are completed.
Once you have had a conviction dismissed, you can apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and Governor's Pardon. Those who were sentenced to prison or put under the authority of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will not be eligible for an expungement and must apply directly for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Not all who apply will be granted one. To be eligible, you must have served your sentence and completed your probation. You must also not be charged with, serving a sentence for, or on probation for another criminal offense. You must also provide evidence that you have lived in California for five years prior to the filing for the Certificate. You are not eligible if you are on mandatory life parole or are in the military.
Even if you are not relieved of the requirement to register as a sex offender, you may be able to get an exclusion from the Megan's Law requirement, meaning your information will not show up on the sex offender registration website. You will still need to register as a California sex offender, but the public will not be able to access that information online. This relieves you of some of the public scrutiny. You must apply for such an exclusion, and not all offenders will qualify.
If you have questions about expungements, Certificates of Rehabilitation, Governor's Pardons, or about how to get a Megan's Law exclusion, speak with an attorney experienced in record cleaning. The benefits of cleaning your record are plentiful. It may restore some of your rights, freedoms, and dignity. Cleaning your record can be challenging. The process can be complicated and there are no guarantees for success. Having a skilled attorney assist you with the process can give you a better chance at having your request granted.
Do you have questions about cleaning your California criminal record? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can help you with cleaning your record and restoring some of your rights. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and has the experienced needed to skillfully handle your case. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.