Posted on October 7, 2017
New Law Allows Sex Offenders to be Removed from California Registry
Nearly ninety (90) percent of California’s convicted sex offenders will no longer be required to register with local law enforcement under a bill that Governor Jerry Brown signed Friday. The bill permits most convicted sex offenders to petition to be removed from registering under both law enforcement and public registries starting in 2021.
California is among four (4) states which requires life time sex offender registration for those convicted of certain enumerated offenses. Because the sex offender list has grown so large over the last 70 years, law enforcement’s supervision of sex offenders has lost its purpose.
In support of the bill, Senator Scott Wiener, based out of San Francisco stated, “With this reform, our law enforcement agencies will be able to better protected people from violent sex offenders rather than wasting resources tracking low-level offenders who pose little or no risk of repeat offense.”
The bill imposes a three-tier system.
Tier-one will allow those convicted of “low-level” offenses to petition to be removed after 10 years of registration. Low-level offenders are typically convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery, possession of child pornography, and indecent exposure. The tier-one category is comprised of the largest number of sex offenders, holding approximately 65,000 people. Tier-one offenders may petition to be removed from the registry after 10 years.
Those falling within tier-two are those convicted of crimes like oral copulation with a minor under 14 years old, lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, and non-forced sodomy with a minor under 14 years old. Tier-two offenders must wait 20 years prior to petitioning to be removed from the sex offender registry.
Tier-three will consist of violent offenders such as forcible rape, sex crimes involving children under 10 years old, and repeated sex offenders. Under tier-three, sex offender registration will be for life. It is estimated that approximately 8,200 sex offenders fall into tier-three category.
The SF Gate reported that the California sex offender registry contains approximately 650 sex offenders whose last convictions were back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. And another 3,000 were last convicted of a sex crime in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Surprisingly, law enforcement agencies and prosecuting agencies throughout California support the bill. For instance, local law enforcement agencies estimated that they spend two-thirds of the money intended for supervising sex offenders on paperwork for tier-one offenders. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley stated that “The money would be better spent monitoring high-risk offenders.”
With this bill, several questions still remain. For example, does a defendant convicted in federal court fall within the class of person who may petition to be removed from the registry? Additionally, would the “petition process” require a court order or would the process be strictly administrative?
 For a full text of the bill: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB384