Termination of Sex Offender Registration in California
- Penal Code §290.5 -
Termination of Sex Offender Registration - PC 290.5
Like most states, California requires that persons convicted of certain sex offenses register as sex offenders with their local law enforcement agency. Historically, those that were required to register as sex offenders carried that burden for the rest of their life.
As of January 1, 2021, California changed its registration law to a three-tiered registry. Depending on the crime of which the person was convicted, registrants are classified as either tier 1, tier 2, or tier 3 offenders.
Tier 1 offenders are required to register for a minimum of ten years, tier 2 offenders are required to register for a minimum of 20 years, and tier 3 offenders are required to register for life.
Beginning July 1, 2021, offenders who are classified as either tier 1 or tier 2 offenders may petition the court for termination of their requirement to register as sex offenders.
1. Who is eligible for termination?
Only tier 1 and tier 2 offenders are eligible to petition for termination of their sex offender registration requirement.
P.C. 290.5 States:
A person who is required to register pursuant to Section 290 and who is a tier one or tier two offender may file a petition in the superior court in the county in which the person is registered for termination from the sex offender registry on or after their next birthday after July 1, 2021, following the expiration of the person’s mandated minimum registration period....
Tier 1 Offenders –
Tier 1 offenders are made up of two categories of offenders. The first category is misdemeanor offenders. Any person that was required to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction of a misdemeanor offense is designated a tier 1 offender.
The second category of tier one offenders are those that were convicted of non-serious or non-violent offenses. Any person required to register as a sex offender because of a conviction of a felony that is neither serious nor violent as defined in section 667.5 PC or section 1192.7 PC is designated as a tier 1 offender.
Tier 2 Offenders –
A person is designated a tier 2 offender if they are required to register as a sex offender as a result of a conviction of any of the following offenses and have not been designated a tier 3 offender:
A serious or violent felony as defined in section 667.5 PC or section 1192.7 PC;
Penal code section 285 PC;
Subdivision (g) or (h) of penal code section 286 PC;
Subdivision (g) or (h) of penal code section 287 PC;
Former penal code section 288a PC;
Subdivision (b) of penal code section 289 PC; or
A second or subsequent conviction of penal code section 647.6 PC.
Tier 3 Offenders –
Tier 3 offenders are those convicted of the most serious sex offenses in California, including but not limited to:
Most cases of rape;
Lewd act with a minor by force or fear;
Child pornography; and
Sex crimes against children under the age of 11 years old.
2. Who is NOT eligible for relief?
Any person that has been designated a tier 3 offender is ineligible to petition the court for termination of their requirement to register as a sex offender.
Tier 3 offenders are required to register for life. The only way to seek relief from having to register as a sex offender when designated a tier 3 offender is to request a pardon by the Governor of California.
3. When can an offender petition for relief?
Any person that is designated a tier 1 or tier 2 offender may petition the court for termination from the sex offender registry on or after their birthday following the expiration of their mandatory minimum registration period.
In other words, tier 1 offenders may petition the court on or after their birthday after having registered as a sex offender for 10 years, and tier 2 offenders can petition the court on or after their birthday after having registered as a sex offender for 20 years.
None of the time an offender is in custody is counted toward the minimum required registration period.
It is important to remember that a person does not start to register as a sex offender until they are released from custody. That means any time the person spent in custody following their conviction will not be counted toward the minimum registration period of 10 or 20 years.
Additionally, a person is not relieved of their obligation to register as a sex offender until after a judge has ordered the relief. Offenders must continue to register as sex offenders while awaiting determination of their petitioning for relief.
A person is NOT automatically relieved of their requirement to register as a sex offender. A person who fails to comply with their sex offender registration requirement may be charged with the crime of failure to register as a sex offender.
4. How long does it take to terminate sex offender registration?
It takes several months to process a petition to terminate sex offender registration. Upon filing a petition, the law enforcement agency has 60 days from the date they received a petition to report your eligibility to the court.
The district attorney then has 60 days from the date of receipt of the eligibility report to request a hearing to dispute your eligibility with the court. The district attorney may request a hearing if the district attorney does not believe you have registered for the minimum period required or believes that you should continue registering for community safety.
If the district attorney chooses to request a hearing, then the court will schedule a hearing to determine the offender’s eligibility for termination of their sex offender registration.
5. What happens if the court denies a petition to terminate registration?
A court may deny an offender’s petition if it finds that the offender has not yet registered for the minimum period of time required by law, or it finds that community safety would be significantly enhanced by requiring continued registration.
If the court denies an offender’s request to terminate their obligation to register as a sex offender, then the court must inform the offender how much time must pass before they can repetition for relief.
Offenders must wait at least one year before repetitioning the court; however, a judge may prohibit repetitioning for up to 5 years based on the facts that are presented at the hearing.
6. Does termination of registration also remove someone from Megan's Law website?
Yes. Termination of an offender’s obligation to register as a sex offender will also remove the offender’s information from the Megan’s law website. The department of justice estimates that offenders granted relief from sex offender registration will be removed from the Megan’s law website within 30-90 days from receipt of the final order from the court.
The department of justice will send offenders a confirmation letter once the records on the website have been updated.
A person who is required to register as a sex offender should NEVER access the Megan’s Law website. It is a misdemeanor offense for a convicted sex offender to go on the Megan’s Law website.
The maximum penalty for accessing the Megan’s Law website as a registered sex offender is 6-months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
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