Registering as a sex offender in California

People convicted of sex crimes in California may be forced to participate in the state’s sex offender registry program for life.

Many people who are arrested for and charged with sex crimes in California may become subject to lifetime registration in the state's sex offender registry program if they are ultimately convicted. The San Francisco Gate notes that the registry has been around for decades and now also interfaces with Megan's Law. This gives law enforcement officials the right to notify the public about the presence of a convicted sex offender.

A challenge to who must register

Commonly heralded as an important means of keeping innocent people safe, some do not believe that the sex offender registry has actually reduced the number of sex crimes that take place. In 2014, an effort was made to change the requirement for lifetime registration such that only high-risk or violent offenders must do so. The assertion was put forth that the size of the database had become unwieldy and removing those people who do not pose serious risks to the community would enhance law enforcement's ability to track the more serious offenders.

Residency requirement changed

In the spring of 2015, Slate reports that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation made what to some was a dramatic change to the residency restrictions placed upon registered sex offenders.

Originally, no registered sex offender could live within 2,000 feet of a park or a school. Now, that restricted has been lifted for many registrants. It remains in place for anyone convicted of an offense involving a child younger than 14 years of age. Additionally, any person deemed to be a high risk to the public remains bound by the restriction. All other registered sex offenders can now live anywhere they desire.

A State Authorized Risk Assessment Tool for Sex Offenders is utilized to determine a person's level of risk.

How the registry works

The State of California Department of Justice explains that all registrants in the sex offender program must update their information at certain intervals. Any registered offender who is homeless must check in and update their registry with a local law enforcement office once every 30 days.

Anyone convicted of a violent sex crime must update their registry every 90 days. All other sex offenders must update their registry once per year. This is to be done within five days of their birthday. In addition, if a registered sex offender moves to a new residence, their registry must be updated within five days of the move.

What defendants need to know

Lifetime sex offender registration is just one of the many consequences for a sex crime conviction. Anyone who has been charged with a sex crime should contact an attorney for help with a defense promptly.