Sex Crime Law in California

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What Is a Sex Crime?

A sex crime is a sexual act that the victim does not want and does not consent to. There are hundreds of variations on this crime listed in the California Penal Code. Those who are convicted of a sex crime are usually classified as "sex offenders" and are required to register with a database, such as California's Sex Offender Tracking Program.

How Does Sex Offender Registration Work in California?

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) has been keeping track of registered sex offenders in California since 1947, when registration in California began. California was the first state in the nation to require sex offenders to register with a state registry. Most other states did not require sex offenders to register until the 1990s. In 1996, California enacted Megan's Law, which allows local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about registered sex offenders in the area that might pose a risk to the public. The database kept by the CA DOJ is the basis for the information displayed on the registered sex offender online database.

Not every registered sex offender appears on the public internet site. The information of about 25% of registered sex offenders cannot be posted online as they did not commit a type of sex crime that requires public registration under Megan's Law, but did commit a sex that requires registration with law enforcement agencies.

If a person is convicted of a specific sex crime that is listed under one of the two laws, he or she will be required to register as a sex offender. Registered sex offenders must update their information annually, within 5 days of their birthday. They must also update their information if they move or become homeless.

How Can I Be Excluded from the Public Database?

If a person convicted of a sex crime wishes to be excluded from the public database, the offender can apply for an exclusion through the Sex Offender Tracking Program. Sex offenders convicted for only one of the following offenses may qualify for exclusion:

  1. Felony sexual battery by restraint
  2. Misdemeanor child molestation
  3. Any offense which did not involve penetration or oral copulation, the victim of which was a child, stepchild, grandchild, or sibling of the offender, and for which the offender successfully completed or is successfully completing probation
  4. Felony child pornography conviction where the victim was at least 16 years or age or older. Keep in mind, however, that though the offender might be granted exclusion from the internet registry, he or she will still have to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement.

Can I Get My Criminal Records Sealed?

Depending on whether or not you meet the necessary criteria, you may be able to seal your criminal records, otherwise known as expungement. Eligibility for expungement varies from state to state, but if you only committed a minor sex crime that did not involve violence, such as indecent exposure, years ago, you might be able to get that record expunged. That prevents everyone, other than law enforcement, from seeing your past criminal history.

If you get your record expunged, you might also be able to get your information of the sex offenders' internet registry.

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you have been charged with a crime it is important that you seek legal assistance immediately. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to defend you in court and give you the best chance of being found not guilty. If you have already been convicted and have served your time for a minor sex crime and no longer wish for that information to show up on your record, you should try to see if you can get an exclusion from being listed on the internet database and go to an expungement lawyer to start the process of sealing your criminal record.

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Last Modified: 06-12-2014 11:45 AM PDT

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