There's a whole host of potential punishments that can befall someone who is convicted of a sex crime in the state of California. First, you could have to register as a sex offender. There's now a three-tier system to register certain crimes for ten years. Those are the less serious sex crimes.
Mid-level crimes you have to register for 20 years, and of course, the most severe crimes you have to register for life. That's something you can talk to your attorney about.
When you come and sit down with me, we'll go over what you're charged with, and we'll see what tier you're in so we can determine what the prosecutors are likely going to be seeking in your case and what you'd be looking at as far as registering as a sex offender.
That's serious because you have to register within five days of your birthday every year, even if you move you have to tell them. I've had clients move to another state and figure they were done with California, and of course, a warrant was issued for their arrest.
You can't just leave because they don' know where you went. You've got to coordinate everything because they're trying to keep track of those individuals who are convicted of sex crimes so they can protect the public.
That is the thought process of the legislature, the police, the prosecutors, and the judges. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will provide an overview below.
Sex Offender Registration in California – Senate Bill 384
The sex offender registry rules have changed. California Senate Bill 384 took effect on January 1, 2021, and created a new three-tiered approach to sex offender registration.
Under the old law, defendants convicted of specific sex-related offenses were required to register as sex offender for life under California Penal Code 290 PC.
This system was inefficient and did not serve the original purposes of the sex offender registry as law enforcement spent a lot of time on record keeping and monitoring of low-risk and low-level offenders.
The new law has a three-tiered approach based on the offense of conviction and other relevant factors.
- Tier one means sex offender registration for at least ten years for anyone convicted of low-level sex crimes, such as misdemeanor indecent exposure.
- Tier two requires sex offender registration for at least twenty years for people convicted of mid-level sex crimes like lewd conduct with a minor.
- Tier three requires lifetime sex offender registration for anyone convicted of a serious sex offense, such as rape and sex trafficking.
The bill also provides a mechanism for people in tiers one and two to petition the court for removal from the sex offender registry after specific periods and if certain requirements are met.
Penalties for a Sex Crime Conviction
The next thing you'll be looking at if you're convicted of a sex crime as far as punishment goes is either jail or prison time. You've got the local county jail, for example.
Here in Los Angeles, you could be put in there for up to a year, and anywhere between a year and no time if you were to get probation on a sex crime case which is not easy to do. Most sex crime cases carry prison time unless charged as a misdemeanor.
The next thing you'd be looking at would be a prison. Going to prison is not good because it's dangerous there. You're going to spend an extended period there.
Unfortunately, for sex crimes, you end up serving a higher percentage of the time than most common crimes. So, you don't want to go to prison if you're convicted of a sex crime.
Posting Bail After a Sex Crime Arrest
Another thing that you can consider, and many people don't think this, is you get arrested for a sex crime; you bail out and go to court. You're potentially facing your bail being raised because in sex crime cases, the prosecutors can try to stack the bail.
Meaning if they charge you with five charges and each charge has a $30,000.00 bail, they can get you for $150,000.00. They can stack the bail against you. Whereas, in other crimes, they're not permitted to do that.
That's another reason you want your private defense attorney so they can go in there and try to avoid them from taking you into custody, raising your bail so you can't get out.
Court Ordered Classes and Other Requirements
Another thing that you're facing, in addition to custody time, registration, and a harsh bail situation, is you could be ordered to do certain things — attend a sex offender class, do community service, do Caltrans.
They might want to get you evaluated by a psych. They call that a Penal Code Section 288.1 report, where the psych is assessing whether or not you are a danger to society, whether or not if you're given probation and an opportunity, you might be a recidivist. In other words, you might do it again.
So, there's a whole host of things that you're facing — obviously, embarrassment. Anybody who gets hit with a sex crime, if that goes on your record, future employers will see that, and it's going to be very difficult to get a job.
You also might lose certain civil liberties — the right to vote and own, use, and possess a gun. There's a whole host of potential issues that come along with a conviction for a sex crime.
So, if you need help or a loved one of yours needs help, pick up the phone make the call. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I've been doing this for 30 years.
Every case is unique and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis for an eligibility determination. If you must register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 and would like an initial consultation, contact our law firm to review the details.
Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case evaluation.