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 will not go into effect until January 1, 2021.

Beginning on January 1, 2021, the California Department of Justice will begin 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 311.1), 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: sex acts with those unable to consent (Penal Code 261), incest (Penal Code 285), oral copulation (Penal Code 288a), acts of penetration with a foreign object (Penal Code 289), and annoying a child on a repeated basis (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: child pornography (Penal Code 311.1), 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 1-800-242-1514 to start planning your defense strategy for your federal case.

The Law Office

Chazin logo new dark

Seth P. Chazin is a San Francisco Bay Area Criminal Defense Lawyer with over 30 years experience.

Super Lawyer

Superlawyercapture orig compressor

Seth P. Chazin is recognized by Super Lawyer. Super Lawyers® is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. This recognition is earned only by the top 5% of attorneys in the state. The selection process for Super Lawyers has many steps and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. To learn more about the selection process, click here.

Menu