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Sex Offender Registration – The Ins and Outs

Law Office of Kristine Koo

People who are convicted of certain sex crimes will have to register as a sex offender in California (Penal Code 290).  Registering as a sex offender negatively impacts one’s life.  Being a sex registrant effects one’s residency, restricts one’s employment, one can lose child custody, and there can be prejudice.

Prior to 2021, no matter what the sex crime was, there was a blanket rule that if someone was convicted of that sex crime, one would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life.  

But – good news – in 2021, a new law came out, where now, there is a three-tiered sex offender registration system in California.  This law now distinguishes between sex crimes and takes away the automatic lifetime registration requirement. 

Tier 1

-10 years sex registration; 5 years if minor 

-All misdemeanor sex offenses and some minor felony sex offenses, including: 

-PC 314 – Exposing oneself lewdly in public where others are present 

-PC 311.11 – Possession of Child Pornography 

-PC 243.4 – Sexual Battery 

-PC 266(c) – Inducing sex by fraud

-PC 289.6 – Misdemeanor sodomy 

-PC 289.6 – Misdemeanor oral copulation 

-PC 288.4 – Meeting with a minor for lewd purposes 

Tier 2

-20 years sex registration, 10 years if minor 

-Mid-level sex crimes, including: 

-PC 285 – Incest 

-PC 261 – Rape

-PC 286 – Sodomy with minor under 14 years of age

-PC 287 – Oral Copulation with minor under 14 years or age and more than 10 years younger than defendant

-PC 289 – Penetration with a foreign object

-PC 647.6 – annoying a child as subsequent offense (reoffending)

Tier 3

-Lifetime registration

-High level sex crimes, for example: 

-Murder during the commission of rape or forced sexual act

-Kidnapping with rape/sexual act

-Assault with intent to commit felony 

-Sex Trafficking 


-Felony sexual battery 

-Spousal rape

-Aiding a rape

-Lewd acts with minor 

-Sex acts on child under 10 years of age

The crimes above are just examples and there are other sex crimes that could go under the tiers.  And, one must remember that even though one may not be pleading to a sex crime, the court may order the person to register as a sex offender if the underlying offense was a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification.  (See Penal Code 290.006).  

Besides looking at the crime one is being convicted of, how does the court determine what tier one goes in?  

Under Penal Code 290.006(c), the statute lists factors as to what courts look for in determining what tier a sex registrant belongs to.  The court will look at the nature of the offense (as seen above), the age of the victim(s), whether the victim was known to the defendant, the criminal history of the defendant, whether there is past sexual offenses, and the risk of offending again. 

Removal of Sex Registration 

If one has been sentenced to Tier 1 and Tier 2 sex registration, one can petition the court to end the 10 or 20 year registration period. 

Megan’s Law

Once someone registers as a sex offender, their information is generally available to the public on the Department of Justice’s Megan’s Law website.  The website will display the specific sexual offense one has committed in California.  It will also show one’s photo, identifying information (describe what one may look like), and your address may appear as well. 

Expungement – 1203.4 – Can someone expunge their sex crime from their record? 

Short answer – yes – you can. But, it depends on what you have been convicted of.  If it is for a misdemeanor, low level offense, it is possible.  

Contact an attorney today to help you out if you are facing sex registration or the possibility of it.  

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Kristine was my lawyer for an unexpected and ugly divorce and custody battle last year. Kristine was professional, taking the time to get to know me. She constantly kept me informed of upcoming hearings and...


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