California Sex Offender Registration Laws and Changes in Conviction Penalties

Posted By Imhoff & Associates || 4-Sep-2010

California sex offender laws are strict. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony sex offense crime in California, besides serving jail time or completing probation, you must also register as a sex offender. California Penal Code Section 290(a)(2)(A)-(E) requires all persons convicted of sex offenses in California to register for life as a sex offender with the local police station or sheriff's department in the city or unincorporated area where they reside. The court may order a person to register as a sex offender even if their offense was not a sexually motivated crime.
Most common sex offenses requiring registration under Section 290 include the following acts:
·    Rape under Penal Code Section 261
·    Sexual battery under Penal Code Section 243.4
·    Lewd acts regarding minors under Penal Code Section 288
·    Contributing to the delinquency of a minor under Penal Code 272
·    Child pornography under Penal Code 311
·    Pandering a minor under Penal Codes 266h and 266i
·    Aggravated and continuous sexual assault of a minor under Penal Codes 269 and 288.5
·    Incest under Penal Code 285
·    Forced acts regarding oral copulation under Penal Code 288a
·    Sodomy under Penal Code 286
·    Acts of penetration with a foreign object under Penal Code 289
·    Indecent exposure under Penal Code 314

The law states that the person must register within five days from release of custody or probation or changing their residence within or outside the city or county or their name. Transient and homeless people must continue to register every 30 days. A sex offender who attends or is living at a campus of a California state or community college or other institution of higher learning is required to register both with the campus police and the local law enforcement agency in their jurisdiction. Students or employees who reside in another state and are convicted sex offenders that are working in California or attending a California school must also register with the local law enforcement agency and the school.

All registrants must update their information every year within five working days of their birthday, and sexually violent predators must update their records not less than every 90 days. The names of juvenile registrants are not publicly disclosed on the Internet list. However, law enforcement may use their own discretion to notify the public if they believe that a juvenile sex offender in their area poses a threat to the public. Convicted felony sex offenders who willfully do not comply with the registration law can be found guilty of a felony. Convicted misdemeanor sex offenders who willfully do not comply with the registration law can be found guilty of a misdemeanor for the first violation and a felony for subsequent violations.

Megan's Law

Megan's Law, which was signed into effect on in California by the governor on August 24, 2004, makes it possible for the California list of all sex offenders to be published on the Internet so that the public may access the information. Prior to the enactment of the Megan's Law, the information could only be obtained by the public by visiting their local law enforcement agency to view the information or by calling a toll free 900 number. All states have some sort of Megan's law. The intention of the law is to keep the public informed of the whereabouts of offenders that may pose a threat to them and not for harassing or committing crimes against registered sex offenders.

Dismissal of Offense After Probation and Certificate of Rehabilitation

Under California Penal Code section 1203.4, convicted sex offenders who complete their probation may apply to have their offense dismissed. However, they still must register for life. Only persons whose sex offenses are nondisclosable to the public are eligible to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation from registering as a sex offenders after 7-10 years after their release from custody, parole or probation, whichever occurs first. All other persons must obtain a pardon from the governor.

Chelsea's Law

Thursday September 9, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Chelsea's Law which allows life without parole sentences for adult sexual predators who kidnap, drug, bind, torture or use a weapon while committing a sex crime against a child. Life terms could be ordered for first-time and repeat offenders. The new law also increases other penalties for child molesters, including the requirement of lifetime parole with GPS tracking for offenders convicted of forcible sex crimes against children under 14. The new law was named after 17 year old Chelsea King, who was killed by 31 year old convicted child molester John Gardner. Gardner had been previously convicted of molesting a 13 year old neighbor in 2000 and served five years out of a six year sentence. Gardner was sentenced to life in prison in May 2010 after pleading guilty to the murder of Chelsea King and a 14 year old girl Amber Dubois. The new law will protect children against such crimes by keeping sex offenders such as Gardner in jail for a longer period of time.

State law makers and local police are also trying to keep convicted sex offenders from registering on social networks like MySpace and Facebook, where they look for victims. AB 2208 was introduced in February 2010, which if passed and enacted into law, would make it illegal for convicted sex offenders who are required to register under California Penal Code Section 290 to use social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace by making it a misdemeanor. Facebook already has The P.O.M. Offender Locator tool on their site which allows users to search for sex offenders by putting in their address and providing a list of offenders that the user can click for more information.

If you convicted of certain sex offense crimes, you are required to register for life as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290, even after serving your time or probation. It is crucial that you hire an experienced California criminal law sex offense attorney who can challenge the California sex offender registration laws by getting the charges dismissed after probation and/or assist you with obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation so you no longer have to register as a sex offender. If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony sex offense in California, the attorney can defend you by being able to get your pleas of guilty or no contest withdrawn or get your sex offense crime dismissed, especially in cases of statutory rape or sex with a minor under Penal Code Section 261.5. Many times these accusations are false, and the sex is consensual.

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