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California’s Three Tier Sex Offender Registration System

Having to register as a sex offender in California can seriously and permanently impact your life. Under Megan's Law, authorities notify the public of the addresses and the crimes of people who have been convicted of certain sex offenses. California has been one of only four states to require lifetime registration of sex offenders, alongside Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida. However, by 2021, 90% of California's sex offenders will no longer have to register as sex offenders for life.

On October 6, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California State Senate Bill 384 (SB 384), which will implement a three-tiered sex offender registration system in California. This law differentiates sex offenses by the severity of the crime. The law went into effect on January 1, 2021.

Beginning on January 1, 2021, the California Department of Justice began to determine the tier status of registrants. In July of 2021, Tier 1 and Tier 2 registrants who meet their mandatory minimum requirements will be able to petition the superior court in their county of residence to remove their names from the sex offender registry.

Three Tiers

Tier placement is determined by the criteria outlined in Penal Code 290. Many of the registration requirements will change on a case-by-case basis and will be subject to the evaluation of a judge. The severity of the crime and the number of offenses will be important criteria for deciding which tier best suits which conviction.

Tier 1

Tier 1 requires registration as a sex offender for 10 years, or 5 years for minors. Beginning July 1 of 2021, if you have served the minimum 10 year requirement, you will be able to petition for removal from sex offender registry.

Tier 1 encompasses all misdemeanor sex offenses and some non-violent felony sex offenses. Tier 1 crimes include but are not limited to: indecent exposure (Penal Code 314), misdemeanor child pornography (Penal Code 311.11), misdemeanor oral copulation (Penal Code 288a), and misdemeanor sexual battery (Penal Code 243.4).

Tier 2

Tier 2 requires registration as a sex offender for 20 years, or 10 years for minors. Beginning July 1 of 2021, if you have served the minimum 20 year requirement, you will be able to petition for removal from sex offender registry.

Tier 2 encompasses mid-level felonies that are excluded from Tier 1 and Tier 3. Tier 2 crimes include but are not limited to incest (Penal Code 285), oral copulation (former Penal Code 288a), acts of penetration with a foreign object (Penal Code 289 (b)), and a second separate conviction for annoying a child for sexual purposes (Penal Code 647.6).

Tier 3

Tier 3 requires registration as a sex offender for life. If you are convicted of a Tier 3 crime, you are not eligible to petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry.

Tier 3 encompasses allegedly more serious sex offenses. These include but are not limited to: felony possession of child pornography (Penal Code 311.11), pimping and pandering of a minor (Penal Code 266h), and many cases of rape (Penal Code 261).

Megan's Law Website

Tier 1 offenders will not be posted to the Megan's Law website unless Tier 1 offenders pose a specific and demonstrable threat to a community. However, Tier 2 and Tier 3 offenders will be posted to the website.

Registrants may apply for exclusion from the Megan's Law website if he or she has completed their required probation, and if he or she has not engaged in incest, oral copulation, or forced penetration.

Petition for Termination

On or after July 1, 2021, registrants who meet the mandated minimum requirements may petition the superior court in the county in which they reside. That superior court where the registrant files is responsible for either granting or denying termination of one's name on the sex offender registry. If denied, registrants must wait one year before they can re-submit their petition for termination from the registry.

Have you been accused of a sex offense? Protect your rights and your freedom. Contact criminal defense attorney Seth P. Chazin online or call immediately at 1-800-499-9902 to start planning your defense strategy for your federal case.


“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson