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Megan's Law - Summary of California Law On Sex Offender

  1. Who Is Disclosed on the Internet Web Site


  2. Effective September 24, 2004, Penal Code section 290.46 required the Department of Justice to create this Web site on or before July 1, 2005. There are four categories of registered sex offenders for purposes of disclosure on the Megan's Law Internet web site.

    HOME ADDRESS CATEGORY The conviction of certain sex offenses requires that the home address of the offender be posted, along with other information about the registrant. 290.46, subd. (b).

    CONDITIONAL HOME ADDRESS CATEGORY The conviction of other designated sex offenses, along with the conviction of any other registrable sex offense, requires that the home address be posted, along with other information about the registrant. 290.46, subd. (c).

    ZIP CODE CATEGORY Commission of certain other sex offenses requires that information about the offender, including his or her ZIP Code and other information, but not including the home address, be posted on the web site. 290.46, subd. (d).

    UNDISCLOSED CATEGORY Finally, there is a category of registered sex offenders that may not be displayed on the Internet web site. These are registrants who have been convicted of sex offenses not listed in the above three categories. Offenders in the undisclosed category must still register as sex offenders with local law enforcement agencies, and are known to law enforcement.

  3. Disclosure About Registrants by Local Law Enforcement Agencies


  4. Local law enforcement agencies, under statutes defining the type and extent of notice allowed, may also notify their communities about the presence of designated registered sex offenders in their area. This is usually done only when an offender is suspected of posing a risk to the public. Penal Code section 290.45.

  5. Sex Offender Registration


  6. Initial Registration. Penal Code section 290 requires mandatory registration as a sex offender for persons convicted of the sex offenses listed in that section. 290(a)(2)(A)-(E). Even if the offense is not listed in section 290, the person may be ordered by a court to register as a sex offender if the criminal offense committed was sexually motivated. Section 290 applies automatically to the enumerated offenses, and imposes on each person convicted a lifelong obligation to register.

    The registrant must appear in person to register with the police department of the city in which he or she resides, or with the sheriff's department if he or she resides in an unincorporated area or city which has no police department. The person has five working days to register after release from custody or on probation, or after coming into, or changing his or her residence within, any city or county.

    Transient Registration. If the person has no residence address (is homeless), he or she must register within five working days after release from custody or on probation and, beginning January 1, 2005, no less than every 30 days thereafter, as a transient. Registration is with the law enforcement agency in whose jurisdiction the transient is physically present. Penal Code section 290, subd. (a)(1)(C).

    Campus Registration. A person who resides, or is living as a transient upon, or is enrolled at or employed by, a campus of the University of California, California State University, community college or other institution of higher learning must register with the campus police department, in addition to registering with the police or sheriff's department having jurisdiction over his or her residence. Penal Code section 290.01.

    Registration of Sex Offenders Who Come to School or Work in California. Students and employees who reside out of state but go to school or work in California must register as sex offenders here if they are required to register in their state of residence. Penal Code 290, subd. (a)(1)(G). An employee is defined as a person who is employed in California on a full or part-time basis, with or without compensation, for more than 14 days, or for an aggregate period exceeding 30 days in a calendar year. A student is defined as a person who is registered in an educational institution, as defined in Education Code section 22129, on a full or part-time basis. The student/employee must register in the jurisdiction where he or she attends school or is employed.

    Moves. Registrants with residence addresses must notify the last registering agency in writing within five working days of moving, and must re-register in person if the move is to a new jurisdiction. (Penal Code section 290, subds.(a), (f).) If a move makes a person homeless, he or she must register as a transient within 5 working days of leaving the residence address. Transients, who re-register no less than every 30 days, need not re-register upon changing their location unless to a destination outside the state, in which case the transient must give written notification of his move to the law enforcement agency in whose jurisdiction he or she was physically present before leaving the state, within five working days of leaving. Transients who move into a residence must register at that address within 5 working days of moving there. If the registrant does not know his or her new address out-of-state, the person must still give notice of the move within 5 working days of leaving, and must mail written notice later of the new address or location (if transient) within 5 working days of moving into the new residence. Penal Code section 290, subds. (a)(1)(C), (f).

    Updates. All registrants must update their registration annually, within five working days of their birthday. Penal Code section 290, subd. (a)(1)(D). Transient registrants must also update their registration no less than every 30 days, and sexually violent predator registrants must update no less than every 90 days. Penal Code section 290 subds. (a)(1)(C), (E).

    Out of State Sex Offenses. If a sex offender was convicted in another state, he or she is very likely to be required to register in California, and should register in accordance with the sex offender registration law. If the offender is not required to register in California, the Department of Justice will notify him or her of that assessment and terminate the registration.

    Registration At More Than One Residence. Registrants who regularly reside at more than one residence address must register at each address, regardless of the number of days or nights spent there. If the addresses are in different jurisdictions, the registrant must go to the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over each address. Penal Code 290, subd. (a)(1)(B).

    Juvenile Sex Offender Registration. Juveniles convicted of certain offenses are required to register as sex offenders upon release from the California Youth Authority. Penal Code 290, subd. (d)(1)-(3). However, registrants whose offenses were adjudicated in juvenile court cannot be publicly disclosed, either on the Internet web site or by public notification by a law enforcement agency.

    Name Changes. A registrant must inform the law enforcement agency with which he or she is currently registered of a name change within 5 working days. Penal Code 290, subd. (f)(3).

    Penalties for Violation of Registration Law. There are various criminal penalties that apply to persons who fail to comply with the sex offender registration requirements. In general, a person convicted of a registrable felony sex offense who willfully violates the registration law is guilty of a felony. A person convicted of a registrable misdemeanor sex offense who violates the registration law is guilty of a misdemeanor on the first violation, and subsequent convictions for violating the registration law are felonies. Penal Code 290, subd. (g).

    Dismissal of Offense after Completion of Probation. Sex offenders who successfully complete probation may apply to have the offense dismissed under Penal Code section 1203.4, but dismissal does not relieve the person from the duty to register as a sex offender. Penal Code 290.1.

    Relief from the Lifetime Duty to Register. Persons whose registrable sex offenses are nondisclosable to the public may obtain relief from the duty to register upon obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation. Penal Code 290.5 and 290.4, subd. (a)(1). All others must obtain a governor's pardon to obtain relief from the duty to register as a sex offender. A person is eligible to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation seven to ten years (depending on the registrable sex offense) after release from custody or on parole or probation, whichever is sooner. Certain registrable sex offenders are not eligible to obtain a certificate of rehabilitation. Penal Code 4852.01 & 4852.03.

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