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Sex Offender Registration in California

01-Mar-2012 by Kenneth L. Schreiber

Sex offender registration has been a prominent, national issue since the 1990’s. Amid public pressure after the brutal rape and murder of a young boy in Florida, Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Act. This act, named after the boy, was designed to provide states with guidelines for creating their own sex-offender registration laws. States based many of their provisions on the federal law, which was designed to target those who were likely to reoffend.

In 2006, Congress passed The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWCPSA), which strengthened many of the requirements that states already had in place, and to account for transient offenders who could become “lost” in between state registries. As such, the law intended to create a uniform system of nationwide sex offender registration.

AWCSPA required states to form a three-tiered system of classifying sex offenders. Those categorized in tier three have been convicted of serious crimes (i.e. sexual abuse of a child, forcible rape) and are deemed most likely to reoffend. Tiers two and one are for those offenders who have been convicted of less serious crimes. Those convicted of a tier-three offense are required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. Tier two offenders must register for 25 years, and tier one for 15 years.

California was one of few states to require sex offenders to register with local law enforcement agencies before Congress passed the Wetterling Act. Those convicted of crimes covered under Section 290 of the penal code have been required to register for the last 50 years. With the implementation of Meghan’s Law, the addresses and whereabouts of many sex offenders are public information, and can now be accessed through the Internet.

Offenders may have questions about how (and where) they must register, especially if they change residences. They are often charged with additional crimes for failing to update their addresses and contact information. If you are facing sex crime charges, or have been convicted of such a crime, it is important to understand your reporting obligations. An experienced criminal defense attorney can give you the guidance you need to avoid future prosecution.

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Serving Southern California: Irvine criminal defense attorney Kenneth L. Schreiber represents clients throughout California's Inland Empire, including Riverside, San Bernardino, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, San Diego, Ventura, Los Angeles, Mission Viejo, Beverly Hills, Corona Del Mar, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Huntington Beach, Orange, Villa Park, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Tustin, Lake Forest, Westminster, Anaheim, Vista, Fallbrook, Temecula, Marietta, and other communities in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.