On October 6, 2017, Governor Brown signed SB 384, a new law that overhauls the sex-offender registry and allows for defendants to petition to be relieved from life-time sex registration. The law goes into effect in 2021 and allows sex offenders to petition to be removed from registration as long as they have not committed a new sex crime or committed a serious or violent felony (also known as a strike). SB 384 creates three tiers of sex offenders. The first tier includes people convicted of relatively minor sex crimes like misdemeanor sex battery (Penal Code section 243.4) , misdemeanor child pornography possession (Penal Code section 311) and indecent exposure (Penal Code section 314). This tier of sex offenders can apply for relief 10 years after their sentence is served. The second tier includes people convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor under the age of 14, including oral copulation and sodomy with a minor under the age of 14. This second tier of sex offenders can apply for relief 20 years after their sentence is served. The last tier involves sex offenders convicted of rape, sex crimes against children 10 or younger, repeated sex crimes or sex trafficking. These sex offenders who still be required to register for life.
Currently, the only way for a defendant to acquire relief from sex offender registration is by acquiring a Certificate of Rehabilitation. There are some similarities and differences between a Certificate of Rehabilitation and SB 384. First, a certificate of rehabilitation requires at least a 10-year waiting period before applying for relief from sex registration and SB 384 has that same minimum period of ten years, although for some crimes there is now a waiting period of 20 years. Second, SB 384 expands the list of crimes that can qualify for sex offender registration relief. For example, lewd and lascivious conduct on a minor under the age of 14, commonly referred to as child molestation and defined under Penal Code section 288, did not qualify for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.
However, SB 384 does let defendants convicted of PC 288 apply for sex-offender relief after 20 years. Third, one of the requirements for a Certificate of Rehabilitation is that defendants cannot have been incarcerated for any subsequent offense. That means if a defendant was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery and then seven years later, went to jail for a few days on a DUI, this person couldn’t get a Certificate of Rehabilitation. SB 384 appears to loosen those requirements by stating only defendants who commit new sex crimes or strikes will be prevented from acquiring relief from sex offender registration.
It’s important to note that even with the new law, defendants must still apply for the relief and the relief is not automatic. In order for a defendant to maximize his chances, he should retain an attorney that can help guide him through the process and put his best foot forward with the courts. Our attorneys have extensive experience in both sex crimes and clearing criminal records. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.