Sex Offender Registration

California Sex Offender Registry 

In 1947, California became the first state to enact a sex offender registry law that requires those convicted of a certain sex offenses to register with their local law enforcement agencies. The goal of this law is to provide law enforcement and the public with accurate and up-to-date information regarding registered sex offenders. 

Penal Code 290- How Sex Offender Registration Works in California

Under Penal Code 290, California law requires those convicted of certain sex crimes to register as a sex offender. PC 290 also outlines the steps that offenders are required to take to register. Common sex crimes that require registration include rape, sexual battery, and indecent exposure. However, even if the offense is not listed in PC 290, a judge can still require a person to register as a sex offender if the judge deems that the person committed the crime based on sexual gratification or compulsion. 

Do all convictions requires lifetime registration in California?

With the recent passage of California Senate Bill (SB) 384, there is a new sex registration system that no longer requires lifetime registration for most offenses . SB 384 creates a three-tiered registration system, and the tiers are determined and designated in accordance with the criteria specified in Penal Code section 290. This new system requires different amounts of time for each tier that is based on the severity of the crime. 

What is California’s Sex Offender Three-tier Registry?

  • Tier 1: 10 years
  • Tier 2: 20 years
  • Tier 3: Lifetime 

Tier One (1) – 10 year Registration 

A Tier one offender is subject to registration for a minimum of ten (10) years. This tier is designated for those that committed the lowest level of sex offenses. Tier one encompasses most misdemeanor convictions or for certain non-violent felony sex offense convictions. 

Examples: Sexual battery and indecent exposure

Tier Two (2) – 20-year registration 

A tier two offender is subject to registration for a minimum of 20 years. People who are convicted of Tier 2 offenses can petition to be removed from the registry after 20 years. Tier 2 encompasses mid-level sex crimes.


Lewd acts with a minor and sodomy [web link], such as when the victim is incapable of giving consent due to a mental disorder or physical disability. 

  • Oral copulation as defined in PC 287 c or d
  • Lewd or lascivious act 288 a or b
  • Sexual penetration 289 a or j
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child 288.5
  • Rape, spousal rape, or sexual penetration 264.1 

Note that for Tier one and Tier two, removal from the registry is NOT automatic, as it requires a petition to the court. The court can deny the petition and the DA can also request a new hearing to oppose the petition as well. 

Tier three (3) – Lifetime Registration 

A tier three offender is subject to lifetime registration. Tier three convictions are for the most serious sex crimes, such a PC 187, murder, the unlawful killing of a human being, during the attempted commission or commission of rape or another forced sexual act, such as sodomy or oral copulation, or for child sex trafficking. In addition, repeat sex offenders are often included in tier three (3). 

What are the duties of registration?

In accordance to PC 290, you are required to register within five working days of when you are first released from custody, discharged from a hospital or mental institution, or when you are sentenced (if not jail or prison time was imposed). You are required to report your home address or report your general location if you are homeless.

At the minimum, offenders must register with law enforcement every year within five working days of their birthday. 

Additional Reporting 

Certain circumstances will require additional reporting to law enforcement. 

  • A change in your permanent address must be reported within five working days.
  • An out-of-state move must be reported within 5 working days. 
  • Moving to a different city or county requires additional registration with that local law enforcement agency.
  • Convicted sex offenders who are homeless are required to report their general location with the local law enforcement agency every 30 days.
  • Violent sexual offenders and offenders with a mental disorder are required to report every 90 days. 
  • If you are a student or employee of California colleges or universities, you are required to register with campus police or with city law enforcement if there is no campus police. 

Megan’s Law: Does the public have access to registered sex offender information?

If you are a convicted sex offender, local law enforcement will forward the information of registered sex offenders to the California Department of Justice (DOJ). Under California’s Megan’s Law, the DOJ is required to provide the public with information about most sex offenders. The California DOJ’s Megan’s Law website, gives public access to the names, photos, and identifying information of registered sex offenders, including information over his or her conviction. 

Megan’s Law allows the public to also have access to certain residential information,  which depends upon the severity of the offense. For repeat offenders or those convicted of the most serious sex crimes, the website will provide the entire address of the offender. For those convicted of low-level sex crimes, the public will only have access to the offender’s zip code, county, and city of residence. 

Lastly, there are certain offenders who are required to report his or her information to local law enforcement, but they are not required to have their information online. Offenders convicted of certain sex crimes can also petition to be removed from the website.

What are the restrictions for a registered sex offender?

High-level offenders are required lifelong GPS monitoring. In addition, a court can impose residential restrictions for convicted sex offenders on a case-by-case basis. This means for conditions of probation or parole, a court can prohibit you from living near a school or park. 

Gun Rights

California law states that convicted felons cannot own or possess a gun. Therefore many sex crimes would cause a person convicted to lose their gun rights. 

Immigration Status 

A conviction for a sex crime could possibly affect a person’s immigration status, as many sex crimes fall under the category of “crimes of moral turpitude.” Crimes of moral turpitude are crimes that either involve dishonesty or vile conduct that would be shocking to a reasonable person. Crimes like rape and lewd or lascivious acts with a minor fall under this category. A non-citizen convicted of a sex crime risks deportation or to be ruled inadmissible, meaning he or she would be unable to re-enter the United States or apply for legal immigration status. 

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Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

Our Bay Area sex crime lawyers are experienced in getting cases dismissed or earning you the best possible outcome, but it does take work. Being arrested for a sex crime is devastating. It can affect your job, professional licenses, immigration status, and can cause embarrassment and stress. Our job is to reduce that stress and handle all of the steps of fighting your case. Whether that means going to trial or securing you the best possible plea deal, we do it all. 

If you are ready to discuss your cases with a VIRTUOSO CRIMINAL & DUI LAWYERS attorney, please contact us at (510) 988-5566 for a free and confidential consultation.