California Sex Offender Registration Act Overview
California Penal Code 290
In 1947, California became the first state in the country to enact a statewide sex offender law to monitor the location of convicted sex offenders. In 1994, the federal Wetterling Act took effect, which requires every state to maintain a sex offender registry. Registry laws were amended by Congress in 1996 when it adopted Megan’s Law, which requires law enforcement agencies to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders.
Mandatory and Discretionary Sex Offender Registration
Penal Code Section 290 lists the crimes that require sex offender registration, which include rape, indecent exposure, and sex offenses involving minors. Registration can also be required for crimes not listed under Section 290 if the crime was sexually motivated (See California Penal Code Section 290.006).
Non-California Court Convictions | Sex Offender Registration Act
According to California’s sex offender law, you may also be required to register as a sex offender if you are convicted in another state of an offense that would have been punishable as one or more of the offenses described in Section 290.
Requirements of the Sex Offender Registration Act
California’s Sex Offender Registration Act (“SORA”) requires those convicted of certain sex offenses to register as a sex offender for the rest of their natural lives regardless of the seriousness of the offense or the date of conviction. California Penal Code Section 290 mandates that a sex offender must register with local law enforcement agencies (police or sheriff) where he or she lives and works within five (5) working days of coming into the city or county. Additionally, if the registrant attends school on a college campus, he or she must also register as a sex offender with the campus police. California sex offender law requires re-registration annually; every 30 to 90 days, depending on the conviction and whether the registrant is transient (“homeless”). People who are convicted of a sex offense requiring registration in other states almost always have to register in this state if they move to California or come here for a limited amount of time.
Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Failure to register as a sex offender is a crime in and of itself. It is either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the underlying offense of which the registrant was originally convicted. The stigma of being a registered sex offender can ruin your life and devastate your family. You will likely experience humiliation and ostracization from your community particularly if you are required to be publicly identified on theMegan’s Law website.
Residency and Presence Restriction Laws Impacting Sex Offenders
Even more frightening is the speed at which the popular “designer laws” are being passed by politicians at the state and local government levels restricting where a sex offender may lawfully live or be present. Most registered sex offenders report severe difficulty finding any meaningful employment or affordable housing.
Forced homelessness and destitution seems to have become society’s way of exacting revenge on registered sex offenders – perhaps the most misunderstood and despised segment of the population. Although completely untrue, the public perception is that all registered sex offenders are child molesters.
Relief from Lifetime Registration
However, there is hope. Under the California sex offender law, it is possible to be freed from lifetime sex offender registration. People convicted of certain sex offenses may be relieved of their duty to register upon obtaining aCertificate of Rehabilitation and/or a Governor’s pardon. (California Penal Code Section 290.5)
If you or a loved one is facing a sex offense, it is critical that you speak with an experienced sex crime attorney right away. At Law Advocate Group, LLP, our attorneys have over 50 years of combined legal experience successfully defending sex crimes cases
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