California considers less stringent sex offender registry laws

California’s Sex Offender Management Board has recently proposed tiered registration laws that would allow eventual deregistration for some individuals.

Registration as a sex offender is one of the more serious consequences that people convicted of sex crimes in Hayward may face. Registration can harm a person's public reputation, ability to secure housing and employment opportunities, and removal from the registry can be incredibly difficult. Fortunately, state lawmakers are now considering recommendations that California revise its laws and ultimately reduce the number of people included on the state registry.

Permitting deregistration

Currently, lifetime registration is mandatory for anyone convicted of misdemeanor or felony sex offenses in California, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. Over 74,000 people are listed on the state's registry, including some individuals whose last offenses were decades ago. About 3,000 people who are listed on the registry have not been convicted of a sex crime since the 1960s or 1970s. About 650 people were added to the registry for even earlier offenses.

The state's Sex Offender Management Board has recently urged legislators to adopt a tiered system in which lifetime registration would only be necessary for certain offenders. The tiers would be divided as follows:

• People deemed likely to reoffend would still be required to register for life. This is also true of individuals whose alleged offenses harmed multiple people.

• Other offenders who were convicted of felonies such as rape or sexual assault could qualify for removal from the registry after 20 years, provided that they did not reoffend during that time period.

• Offenders who were convicted of misdemeanors and went 10 years without a subsequent offense would be eligible for deregistration.

This type of tiered system is already used in the majority of other states, according to The Chronicle, and it could offer various advantages here in California.

Impacts and benefits

These new registration policies could benefit the general public as well as people convicted of sexual offenses, according to proponents. Deregistration could allow authorities to dedicate more attention to people who are likelier to offend again, rather than people convicted of one isolated offense. Given the consequences of registration and the current difficulty of deregistering, a tiered system could also make a large difference in the lives of convicted offenders.

Numerous adverse effects of sex offender registration have been documented in California in the past. For instance, at the end of February 2015, about one in four registered sex offenders in the state was homeless as a result of living restrictions imposed under Jessica's Law, according to The Los Angeles Times. Fortunately, state officials took steps to remedy this issue in 2015. Still, other harmful and unintended effects of registration may harm countless people who cannot secure removal from the registry.

Challenging sex crime allegations

Even if these proposals ultimately succeed, it remains critical for people in California to appreciate the serious consequences that can come with a sex crime conviction. Anyone facing these charges should consider protecting his or her interests by consulting with an attorney. An attorney may be able to assist a person in developing a defensive strategy or pursuing a less severe outcome in the event of a conviction.