Written by: Thomas Ahearn
In October 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 384 (SB 384) – also known as the “Sex Offender Registration Act” – which will dramatically change how the state manages the California Sex Offender Registry when the law eventually takes effect on January 1, 2021.
Existing California law requires persons convicted of specified sex offenses to register with local law enforcement agencies while residing in the state or while attending school or working in the state. Willful failure to register is a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the underlying offense.
Existing law also requires the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to make information concerning registered sex offenders available to the public on an Internet Web site – www.nsopw.gov – and that the information must include whether the offender was subsequently incarcerated for another felony.
Starting on January 1, 2021, SB 384 will instead create of a new three-tiered system of sex offender registration, and California will organize registered offenders into three tiers based on their offense and risk of re-offending instead of treating all registerable sex offenses the same. The three tiers will be:
- Tier 1 – Minimum 10 years of being on the registry from date of discharge from custody. This tier applies to: “A person is a tier one offender if the person is required to register for conviction of a misdemeanor described in subdivision (c), or for conviction of a felony described in subdivision (c) that was not a serious or violent felony as described in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5or subdivision (c) of Section 1192.7”
- Tier 2 – Minimum 20 years of being on the registry from the date of discharge from custody. This tier applies to: “A person is a tier two offender if the person was convicted of an offense described in subdivision (c) that is also described in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5or subdivision (c) of Section 1192.7, Section 285, subdivision (g) or (h) of Section 286, subdivision (g) or (h) of Section 288a, subdivision (b) of Section 289, or Section 647.6 if it is a second or subsequent conviction for that offense that was brought and tried separately.”
- Tier 3 – Most serious, lifetime registrant. This tier applies, but is not limited, to: Those committed to mental health facilities as a sexually violent predator. Habitual offenders. The person’s risk level on the static risk assessment instrument for sex offenders (SARATSO), pursuant to Section 04, is well above average risk at the time of release on the index sex offense into the community, as defined in the Coding Rules for that instrument. Those who are sentenced to 15 to 25 years to life for an offense listed in Section 667.61. Certain other conditions listed in Section 2.5 of SB 384Paragraph 3.
The law allows an individual to be placed in a higher tier if they present risk factors for being a repeat offender or a habitual offender. There will also be a tier system applied to juveniles convicted of offenses requiring registration but those tiers will have altered minimum waiting periods.
Proponents of the Sex Offender Registration Act say the law will provide rehabilitated sex offenders a chance to remove themselves from the stigma of registering as a sex offender registry while allowing law enforcement and the public to more closely monitor those sex offenders who pose the greatest risk.