This is one of the biggest issues being argued over and fought for in Los Angeles County, throughout California and really throughout the country as it relates to sex-related offenses.
People don't want to have to register as a sex offender. In addition to being difficult, cumbersome and embarrassing, it's a situation where you can lose the ability to get certain employment. You can lose the ability to live in certain locations and obviously it affects you because it's such a huge stigma on an individual's life to have to register as a sex offender, especially for the rest of their lives.
So, this is definitely something that's talked about. I've been dealing with it now for over 26 years in the time that I've been practicing criminal defense and defending people related to sex-related offenses. I've dealt with it when I worked for the prosecutor's office in Los Angeles and I have a pretty good feel for what the issues are surrounding this.
Avoid Pleading Guilty to Certain Sex Crimes
One of the first things is that people are not looking at it from the right frame of reference. In other words, criminal defendants are saying, I don't want to register as a sex offender, and they're not understanding that it's not necessarily a decision whether you register as a sex offender, more than it is a decision as to which you plead guilty to.
In other words, if you plead guilty to certain crimes, or no contest, you must register as a sex defender per the law — per the legislature. While other crimes and unfortunately this list is a lot shorter than the registration list if you plead to them, you don't have to register as a sex offender.
Under California Penal Code 290, it requires people convicted of certain sex crimes must register as a sex offender. A convicted sex offender must register with the local law enforcement agency annually within 5 days of their birthday, and upon moving residences.
So, you need that basic understanding from the get-go. You're fighting more for a different charge than you are fighting for the lack of registration. It's a little bit of semantics, but it starts to give you an idea of some things that you might be able to do to avoid sec registration. In other words, don't plead to a crime where you have to register as a sex offender.
Plead Guilty to Sex Crime That Doesn't Require Registration
Another alternative that I've used is sometimes if they want you to register as a sex offender at least or a period of time, you could plead to a charge that does not require sex registration.
However, you could agree as part of your probation that you will register as a sex offender during the probationary period and if you don't pick up any new cases, you do everything that you're supposed to do.
At the end of the probation your case can be dismissed, your probation can be terminated and you'll no longer have the requirement to register as a sex offender. So, that's one angle that can be used on some cases.
Obviously, the prosecutors if they've got the goods against you — if they've got the evidence to prove the case against you, then they have the power to be able to say whether or not they're going to accept a resolution like that. So, that's one angle to try to avoid registering as a sex offender.
Another angle is, you could go to trial, win the case and be found not guilty and then you don't have to register as a sex offender. Unfortunately, you don't always have that luxury in every criminal sex crime case that's filed in Los Angeles to be able to win the case.
So, really one of the biggest things you're looking at, at least from my perspective is whether or not you can convince the prosecutor or your attorney can convince the prosecutor to allow you to plead to a non-registrable offense.
So, one thing you'll need in order to have a chance to do that is the facts and circumstances surrounding the crime that you've been arrested for has to be such that factually in addition to pleading to a registrable offense, you could plead to a non-registrable offense and that could make sense under the facts and circumstances of your case.
The prosecutors don't like to get themselves involved with what's called a legal fiction. Basically, they're going to make up a charge for you so you don't have to register as a sex offender and it doesn't really relate to the facts and circumstances of your particular case. They don't like to typically do that.
So, what we try to do is figure out, wait a minute, even if this is true that the person did this, you could also charge that as having consensual sex with a minor which does not require registration.
You could also charge that with a solicitation of prostitution instead of a pimping (CALCRIM 1150) and pandering (CALCRIM 1151) so the person doesn't have to register as a sex registrant and they don't have to be sent to prison for a minimum of three years. So, changing the charge is definitely one way to avoid sex registration.
Proving You Are Not a Recidivist
Another way is to be able to fight your case and win your case. These are really the two most realistic ways to avoid sex registration. Another thing that is done in conjunction with this is to be able to show the prosecutor that you're not going to be a recidivist.
In other words, they don't have to worry about you getting involved with any more sex offenses in the future. If you can show them this, then that's another way to avoid sex registration and get the charge changed to something else.
The way that you do that is, number one, you get what's called a static 99 report which is basically a report that is designed to determine whether somebody is going to commit further sex offenders. There's a whole bunch of different tests.
It's used in all the courts throughout Los Angeles County, maybe even across America. It's a pretty recognized tool that has been used to try and show that a particular defendant is not going to be a recidivist.
Another thing is you can get what's called a Penal Code 228.1 report which is where a psychiatrist will evaluate you. Obviously, I try to get somebody who's on the criminal defense panel that regularly deals with sex offenders.
They're trying to conduct tests, figure out why you did what you did, and obviously we're trying to mount an argument that it's not going to happen again and show the prosecutors why it won't happen again and what can be done in order to make it a very low chance that you would be a sex offender again.
So, there's a whole bunch of different things that can be done but of course it has to be applicable to your case. That's why we have you come in. You sit down. We talk about everything and we figure out, based upon your particular circumstances exactly how we're going to handle the case.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.