Written by attorney Darren Todd Kavinoky

Seeking Relief from California Sex Offender Registration

Under California law, individuals convicted of certain sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders. This requirement, which carries considerable social stigma, is for life, so it's understandable that individuals often seek relief from this obligation. Under certain circumstances, it's possible to get relief from the requirement to register as a sex offender.

First, it's helpful to understand California's "Megan's Law" and registration requirements for sex offenders. Under California Penal Code section 290, anyone convicted of the listed offenses is required to register with their local police or sheriff's department within five days of being released from custody or moving to a new location. Even if the offense is not listed in California Penal Code section 290, the individual can still be required to register as a sex offender if the court orders it because the offense was deemed to be sexually motivated. Individuals who live in other states must register in California if they come here to work or attend school for more than 14 continuous days, or 30 or more days per year, if they are required to register in their home states.

The public can access information about sex offenders by visiting the state's "Megan's Law" website or contacting their local law-enforcement agency. The amount of information about the offender that appears in the database depends on the type of offense. Some individuals must register using their name and home address. Others appear only by zip code - the offender's actual address does not appear on the website. Still others do not appear in the database, but are required to register with police and are known to local law-enforcement.

Individuals whose sex-offender registration does not need to be disclosed to the public can gain relief from the requirement by obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation. This is a complex process that is best undertaken with the help of a skilled California attorney. Certificates of rehabilitation are sought from the court of conviction between seven and 10 years after release from custody or parole. The applicant must be a resident of the state for three years, and have not accumulated any additional criminal convictions during that period. If the trial court approves the certificate of rehabilitation, it is sent to the governor, who can grant it without further investigation unless the individual in question has been convicted of two or more felonies. In those cases, the certificate of rehabilitation must be approved by a majority of the state Supreme Court.

Individuals whose registration as a sex offender is disclosable to the public must obtain a governor's pardon. Governor's pardons are granted only to individuals who have demonstrated exemplary behavior after a conviction for a felony or certain misdemeanor sex crimes. The individual must wait 10 years after conviction except in extraordinary circumstances, and must have avoided additional trouble with the law during that period. A governor's pardon relieves the individual of the requirement to register as a sex offender. This is also a complex process that should only be pursued with the help of an experienced California lawyer.

Obtaining relief from the requirement to register as a California sex offender is a worthwhile pursuit that has many benefits. A knowledgeable attorney can review your case to determine whether you may be eligible.

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