Sex Offender Registration Laws
Public debate surrounding sex offender registration laws keep this topic alive and well and the laws ever changing. Whenever the media covers a “loophole” in sex offender registration policies (e.g. an offender reoffends or fails to register), people argue the laws need to be stricter and broader. At the same time, those required to register as sex offenders face increasing pressure and limitations that make reintegration and moving on from their conviction difficult. There is little we can do to please both sides, but keeping an eye on recent changes to the California sex offender registration law helps us keep defendants facing such a requirement fully informed about what their future may hold. With that in mind, let's take a look at recent changes to the California sex offender registration law and why critics are saying it is changing for the better.
The California sex offender registration law is also referred to as Megan's Law. This law requires convicted sex offenders to register with a central registry. That registry is then maintained and made accessible online. This allows community members a chance to know who is in their community and even details about why they must register. The public argues sex offender registration is necessary to protect children and other vulnerable people. Thus, the requirement to register is taken very seriously, and there are penalties if you fail to do so.
Offenders must register with their local law enforcement agency (i.e. the agency with jurisdiction where the offender lives). Offenders are notified in writing of this requirement, so there is no confusion. They only have five days in which to register with their local law enforcement agency. This can be difficult if the offender does not have a stable place to live. Offenders must update the registry frequently, some as often as every 30 days.
Previously, in most cases, an offender would have to maintain registration for life. The ramifications of this are not hard to appreciate. California's sex offender registration law, however, is changing. Under Senate Bill (SB) 384, the current sex offender registration law (Penal Code 290) is amended. Now, California's sex offender registration law is divided in a three-tiered system. These tiers place different requirements on different offenders, depending on their offense.
Offenders in tier one must register as a sex offender for at least ten years. This tier is reserved for low-level offenders. Examples of convictions that could place a defendant in tier one include sexual battery (misdemeanor) and indecent exposure.
Offenders on tier two have to register for at least 20 years. Offenders convicted of mid-level offenses such as lewdness with a minor under 14 will be placed on tier two.
Tier three is reserved for serious offenders and requires lifetime registration. Examples of offenses that could result in a tier three designation include violent offenses including most rape charges, sex trafficking, and sex crimes against children.
This new system is more just to offenders. Low-level offenders now do not have to face a lifetime of stigma for their mistake. More dangerous offenders will, however, face lifetime registration, which illustrates the need for aggressive legal counsel when facing any type of sex crime that could require registration. Also, many criticize this new system as unfair to our communities. In reality, offenders who truly pose a threat to public safety will have to register for life, while lower-level offenders will have a chance to reintegrate into their communities with less discrimination.
Facing sex crime charges is stressful. The potential consequences are staggering, especially considering the sex offender registration requirement. Whether you have to register for ten years or life, the burden can be life-changing. Never face such charges with skilled legal guidance from an experienced sex crime defense attorney.
Are you facing sex crime charges? If so, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for expert counsel. Experienced in sex crime defense, our Visalia area legal team can advise you of your options and help you take steps to fight your charges, so that you can clear your name. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Christopher Martens will aggressively defend your rights and help you get the outcome you want. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.