Updated: Jan 18
California was the first state to enact a sex offender registry in 1947. The idea of a “convict registry” was first designed in the 1930’s to keep the Mafia and gangsters from setting up shop in Los Angeles, by requiring those convicted of certain crimes to register with the local police. Then in the late 1930’s the Los Angeles Police Department created their “Bureau of Sex Offenses”, in which records were kept of all convicted sex offenders in their jurisdiction. Shortly thereafter, a local chapter of the Los Angeles PTA (yes, the Parent Teacher’s Association) conceived of a plan to combine the “convict registry” with the LAPD’s sex crime index, and adding some additional sex crimes, into a sex offender registry in the City of Los Angeles. Based on false allegations that sex crimes were increasing in the City, this registry was used as a platform for politicians and in 1947, the California sex offender registry was born.
California’s sex offender registry is still in place, and prior to January 1, 2021, was one of only four states (the others being Florida, Alabama and South Carolina) to mandate a lifetime registration for ANY sex offense conviction. According the California Department of Justice there were 120,000 registered sex offenders in California prior to January 1, 2021, with crimes ranging from indecent exposure to child molestation, all being required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. However, with the enactment of Senate Bill 384 (SB 384) on January 1, 2021, the sex offender laws made a dramatic change.
SB 384 was drafted, and signed into law, to address the inequities of the sex offender registration laws and to help reduce wasted time and money with law enforcement having to monitor low risk offenders. Penal Code section 290, the statute addressing registration, was changed from a lifetime registration to a tiered system, and thus allows a registrant to petition the court to be removed the requirement to register. This long overdue change has not only bipartisan support, but it also has support from most of law enforcement. Alameda County District Attorney, Nancy O’Malley notes, “SB 384 takes an antiquated, ineffective 70 year old system and replaces it with an evidence-based and updated method to monitor sex offenders. This proposed law will better protect the public from sexual predators by enabling law enforcement to focus on those who have committed the most serious sexual assault crimes and who pose the greatest danger of recidivism. [SB 384] stems from five years of research and drafting with the goal of ensuring that all Californians are protected from those most at risk of reoffending.”
Who qualifies to be removed from the registry? It depends. What crime were they convicted of? How long ago was the conviction that required registration? Have they been in any trouble since then? It will also depend on which tier the Department of Justice has placed them, which can be 10 years, 20 years, or lifetime registration. There are also some other legal requirements and analysis that need to be done prior to filing the petition. Even if the petitioner meets the time requirements, the prosecution can still object to removal from requirement to register based on community safety.
Although it may seem impossible to be removed, it is not! With the new law in place and with the guidance of someone who knows the system and how the sex offender laws work, there is a good chance that sex offender registration could be a thing of the past. If you have questions about SB 384 and would like help in being removed from the requirement of sex offender registration, contact me now for a free consultation. With over 15 years of working in sex crimes, I have the experience and knowledge to best navigate through the process and your best chance for a positive outcome.