At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, we are fully aware of the potential long-term consequences of sex offender registration. If you’ve been charged with a sex crime, registration is only one of the many harsh consequences that you’ll face if you’re convicted. Fresno sex crimes attorney Michael McKneely will work hard to protect your rights and obtain a favorable resolution. He will use the knowledge he gained as a prosecutor and his experience as a criminal defense lawyer to make sure registering as a sex offender in California is the right decision for you.
It is important to remember that a criminal conviction can have serious and long-lasting repercussions on your life, even after serving a jail sentence and paying fines. Criminal convictions often result in a criminal record, which can stain a person’s reputation and cause difficulties in finding employment, housing, and credit.
Perhaps, even more, damaging than having a criminal record is being required to register as a sex offender. Most states, including California, have passed legislation requiring people convicted of certain sex crimes to register as a sex offender for life. Being on this registry can create a crippling stigma and may prevent you from living anything close to a normal life.
Crimes Requiring Sex Offender Registration
Under the California Penal Code, lifelong registration as a sex offender is required for specified sex crimes, including:
- Sexual battery;
- Sexual assault;
- Sexual acts with a minor under 14 years old;
- Abducting a minor for prostitution;
- Sodomy with a minor child;
- Indecent exposure;
- Possessing child pornography or other representations of simulated sexual acts with a minor;
- Sexual penetration by force;
- Lewd acts in public.
Additionally, defendants may have to register as sex offenders even for crimes that are not listed as sex offenses covered by the registration act if a judge determines that the crime was sexually motivated.
A convicted sex offender as defined by the code must continuously register with the police in addition to university law enforcement while living on a campus, working, or be attending classes. They must notify the police within five business days if they move, change addresses, or live somewhere else temporarily.
Failure to Register
The sex offender registration statute outlines additional penalties for failing to register if you’ve been convicted of a covered offense. You may be sentenced to serve one year in jail if the underlying sex crime was a misdemeanor. However, if the underlying sex crime was a felony, failure to register may result in a prison sentence of up to three years.
Each time that a person who is required to register as a sex offender violates his or her reporting duties, it is treated as a continuing violation and could result in extended jail time. If the underlying sexual offense was a felony, failing to register is considered a “strike” under the state’s three-strikes law. If this is the defendant’s second strike, then the failure to register offense may mean up to six years of additional prison time. If the defendant has two previous strikes, failure to register may result in a third strike that results in 25 years to life in prison.
Megan’s Law in California
In addition to registering with local law enforcement, many sex offenders also face further restriction and stigma under Penal Code section 290.46, commonly referred to as Megan’s Law. Enacted in 1996, a version of Megan’s Law exists in every U.S. state and is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed by a previously convicted sex offender who had moved across the street without the family’s knowledge. Essentially, Megan’s Law allows law enforcement to inform the public about registered sex offenders who may pose a risk to public safety. The information is made available to anyone via the Megan’s Law website and depending on the type and severity of the sex offense that you were convicted of, may include:
- Your Name
- Height / Weight / DOB
- Your Photo
- Your Address
- Your Sex Crime Conviction
- Whether You are in Violation of your Registration Requirements.
Can I Be Removed from Megan’s Law?
While making this data available is not meant to put offenders at risk of retaliation; nonetheless, when your personal details are so easily accessible, it can lead to significant backlash, both professionally and personally. When your name, face, and the specifics of your past conviction are plastered online it can be humiliating and overwhelming, but it is important to remember there are ways to limit or remove your information from the Megan’s Law website. For example, if you were convicted of a sex crime such as sexual battery by restraint, annoying or molesting a child, or an offense that did not involve penetration or oral copulation, and you successfully completed probation without being sentenced to state prison, you can request to have your information removed by submitting an exclusion form to the Attorney General’s Office.
Please keep in mind that even if you meet all the above criteria, if you are classified as a sexually violent predator your application will be denied. Additionally, if your efforts are successful and your personal details are excluded from the website, your duty to register with law enforcement will still be in place. By working with an experienced and knowledgeable Fresno sex crimes lawyer, you can ensure your application meets the necessary standards and will be in a much better position of securing a result that lets you resume a normal life.
Jessica’s Law in California
Another significant sex crime statute related to Megan’s Law is Proposition 83 in California, known nationally as Jessica’s Law. Passed in 2006, Jessica’s Law is named for Jessica Lunsford, who was also raped and killed in Florida by a convicted sex offender. Under the statute, California increased the penalties for convicted sex offenders, prolonged periods of parole for some sexual offenses, expanded upon how some sex crimes were defined, allowed lifetime GPS monitoring for sex offenders considered to be high risk, increased who can be deemed eligible for sexually violent predator (SVP) commitment, and prohibited any person required to register as a sex offender from living within 2,000 feet of any school or park. However, this final provision was later deemed unconstitutional in 2015 and will not be enforced as a blanket restriction. Instead, all residency restrictions will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
As you can see, sex crimes are treated harshly in California. With penalties extending past already substantial prison sentences to include possible life-long civil commitments, GPS monitoring, and excessive infringements to your privacy and ability to move on, sex crime accusations need to be taken seriously form the start. Your chances of avoiding the negative impact that sex offender registration can have on your life will be far greater if you consult an attorney with experience in this highly-specialized area of law immediately after you are arrested or as soon as you become aware that you’re the target of an investigation.
Further Questions about Registering as a Sex Offender in California?
A harsh social stigma comes with registering as a sex offender. Once registered, things such as employment, acquiring a home, or forming relationships in the community may become extremely difficult. Because of the stakes involved, you need to have a skilled legal team on your side if you’ve been charged with an offense that may result in sex offender registration. With the help of a knowledgeable and experienced Fresno criminal defense lawyer, many strategies may be available to defend your reputation and your rights. We have decades of experience in the criminal defense field, particularly defending against sex crime charges.