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12.19.23

How Are Sex Offender Tier Levels Determined in California?

BY : Chastaine | Jones
Written by: Chastaine | Jones

What to Know About Sex Offender Registration Requirements in the State

Under California law, if you are convicted of certain offenses, you may be required to register as a sex offender. The requirement to register as a sex offender can affect many aspects of your life, including where you can work and live. If you are charged with a sex crime in California, you need to understand the sex offender tier levels and how each may affect your rights.

At Chastaine | Jones we represent individuals who have been accused of sex offenses in Northern California. Our experienced legal team will help you understand your rights and will fight the charges against you. If you have been arrested for a sex crime, the stakes are high. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential consultation. 

What Is a Sex Offender?

In 1996, the State of California enacted Megan’s Law under Penal Code Section 290.46. Megan’s Law requires that the Department of Justice in the state notify the public about individuals who have been convicted of certain sexual offenses. 

With the passage of Senate Bill 384, California moved to a three-tiered registration system in 2021. The new system states that a person may be required to register for 10 years, 20 years, or life, depending on which tier they fall into. These tiers apply to adult registrants. Juvenile registrants may be required to register for 5 or 10 years, depending on the circumstances of the case. 

What Is a Tier 1 Sex Offender?

A Tier 1 sex offender is codified by law. Any person who commits a misdemeanor or some non-violent felonies described under subsection (c) of Penal Code Section 290 may be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years. 

Crimes that may require you to register as a Tier 1 sex offender include but are not limited to:

  • Misdemeanor sexual battery
  • Inducing sex by fraud
  • Indecent exposure
  • Misdemeanor sodomy
  • Misdemeanor oral copulation

Certain felonies that are not violent or serious may also qualify for Tier 1 registration. It is important to note that you are not automatically removed from the registry after 10 years, which is why you should retain an attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. 

What Is a Tier 2 Sex Offender?

A Tier 2 sex offender is generally required to register for a minimum of 20 years. Individuals who are required to register as Tier 2 sex offenders are usually convicted of more serious crimes. Many felony sex offenses fall under this category.

Some crimes that require Tier 2 sex offender registration include:

  • Incest
  • Felony sodomy
  • Felony oral copulation
  • Acts of penetration with a foreign object
  • Obscene acts with a minor under the age of 14

Some second or subsequent offenses may also raise the requirement from a Tier 1 to a Tier 2 registration. It is imperative that you speak to an attorney as early in the process as possible to determine the registration requirements upon conviction.

What Is a Tier 3 Sex Offender?

Tier 3 sex offenders are required to register for life. Crimes that require Tier 3 registration are generally considered violent felonies, such as murder committed during the commission of a rape, child sex trafficking, and most instances of rape.

How Long Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

The length of time that you have to register as a sex offender depends on the tier. Tiers are determined by the type of crime that was committed and whether you have prior offenses. In California, adult sex offenders may be required to register for 10 years, 20 years, or for life. Juvenile offenders may be required to register for 5 or 10 years.

Contact Our Office to Learn More

Were you arrested for a sex crime in California? Your entire life could be upended by a conviction. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you could be required to register as a sex offender for a decade or more. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team. 

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