California Sex Offender Records

What is a Sex Offender?

The term “sex offender” refers to anyone who has been convicted of a sex offense. Individuals become sexual offenders after a California court finds them guilty of committing a crime in the sexual category—as defined under California's penal codes. Depending on the severity of the crime, a sex offender may be required to register for several years or for life. Some common examples of sex offenses include rape, sexual assault, and sexual conduct with a minor. Most crimes generally fall under four main categories:

  • Crimes against monetized sex (prostitution)
  • Adult-to-adult crimes (marital rape, sexual assault, rape)
  • Crimes against minors (pornography, abduction, molestation)
  • Crimes against nature (bestiality and indecent exposure)

In the United States, different jurisdictions have different definitions for what is considered a sexual offense. State and federal law also have varying classifications, penalties, and prison sentences for sex offenders. Regardless of the jurisdiction, illegal sexual acts and behaviors are generally seen as a threat to public safety and welfare.

As such, anyone who commits a sex crime is not only subject to stiff penalties from the law, but the stigma of being known as a sex offender can ruin a person’s life, family, and social relationships. It can also limit what they can do, where they can live, and where they can go. For instance, in California, being convicted of a sexual offense by the courts can result in the loss of certain privacy rights. Sex offenders may be required to register their name, present address, and other identifying information on a public record. Some stay on this record for life.

Who is Considered a Sex Offender in California?

The California Penal Code does not particularly define the term “sex offender.” Instead, the law highlights several sexual offenses for which a person can be convicted and sentenced to jail or prison. Most of these crimes are listed under Title 9 of the Penal Code, including rape, incest, sexual battery, oral copulation, aggravated sexual assault, and sodomy.

However, Cal. Penal Code § 667.71(a) defines who the state deems a “habitual sexual offender.” According to this law, a person can be labeled as a habitual sexual offender if previously convicted of the following offenses and sentenced again for any of these crimes:

  • Rape
  • Spousal rape
  • Lewd or lascivious act
  • Rape, sexual penetration, or spousal rape, in concert
  • Sexual penetration
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child
  • Sodomy
  • Oral copulation
  • Kidnapping to commit or with the intent of committing certain sex offenses
  • Aggravated sexual assault of a child
  • Any similar offense committed in another jurisdiction

Such offenders are subject to incarceration for 25 years to life.

What are the Different Types of Sex Offenses in California?

In California, there are several types of sex offenses that can lead to an individual’s incarceration, sex offender registration, commitment, probation, and more. The law grades these crimes by their severity, and offenders are punished thus. Judges and magistrates also assess penalties based on an offender’s previous convictions, the victim’s age, the offender-victim relationship, the use of violence, threats, or deadly weapons, etc.

Sexual offenses identified by California statutes include:

Rape: Title 9, Chapter 1 of the Califonia Penal Code covers the crime of rape. Per Cal. Penal Code § 261 any act of sexual intercourse with a person who is not a spouse to the culprit is considered rape under the following conditions:

  1. Where the victim is mentally or physically incapable of giving legal consent, and the perpetrator knows or should know this.

  2. Where the perpetrator used force, violence, menace, coercion, or fear of instant and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person.

  3. Where the victim is drugged to prevent resistance.

  4. Where the victim is unconscious during the act and therefore incapable of resisting. The law further describes this as:

    1. When the victim was unconscious or asleep,
    2. When the victim was not aware that the act occurred,
    3. When the victim was not aware of the act due to the perpetrator’s misrepresentation, or
    4. When the victim was not aware of the act because the culprit tricked the victim into believing that the sexual penetration served a professional purpose when it did not.
  5. Where the perpetrator commits the act by threatening to retaliate against the victim or another person in the future, such as to kidnap or falsely imprison them or mete out serious bodily injury, extreme pain, or death.

  6. Where the perpetrator threatened to use a public official’s authority to arrest, imprison, or deport the victim or someone else.

  7. Where the victim submits believing that the perpetrator is someone known to them, and the perpetrator induces this belief by pretense, fraud, concealment, or using any other ruse.

Spouses can also be charged with rape in California if the act is committed against their partners and meets the conditions described in numbers 2, 3, 4 (a)(b)(c), 5, and 6 above.

Per the law, rapists can be sentenced to 3, 6, or 8 years in prison. The court may also assess a fine not exceeding $70. However, the confinement period will be for 7, 9, or 13 years if the victim is a child under 14 years and the act entailed force, violence, menace, duress, or fear of instant and unlawful bodily harm on the victim or someone else. If the child is 14 years or more, the incarceration period can be 7, 9, or 11 years.

However, when the offender conspired with another person to commit a forcible or violent rape offense, the court can sentence the offender to 5, 7, or 9 years in prison. If the victim is under 14, the sentence can be 10, 12, or 14. If the victim is 14 years or more, the punishment is a 7, 9, or 11-year prison term.

Furthermore, if the perpetrator and victim are spouses, the court may impose probation in place of imprisonment. As such, the offender may be required to pay up to $1,000 to a battered women’s shelter. The court may also order the culprit to reimburse the victim for reasonable counseling costs, plus other costs incurred by the victim because of the act.

Although the acts detailed above constitute rape in California, Cal. Penal Code § 263.1 also states that all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault may be considered rape in the state. Equally, any sexual penetration, however slight, is enough to serve as rape (Cal. Penal Code § 263).

In the California criminal justice system, the basis for a sex conviction is the outrage to the victim’s person and the victim’s feelings.

Unlawful sexual intercourse: Defined by Cal. Penal Code § 261.5 as a sexual act with a person who is not one’s spouse and a minor (under 18 years old). The penalty for this crime is assessed based on the age of the minor and perpetrator:

  • When the minor is not more than 3 years younger or older than the adult (a person over 18 years), the crime is a misdemeanor (up to a year in jail)
  • When the minor is more than 3 years younger, the offense can be a felony or misdemeanor. If it is a felony crime, the culprit will be punished per Cal. Penal Code § 1170(h). This can lead to 16 months in county jail or 2 to 4 years in a state penitentiary.
  • If the perpetrator is 21 years or more and the victim is under 16 years of age, the court may assess a misdemeanor sentence or felony term per Cal. Penal Code § 1170(h).

Additionally, the court may order civil penalties:

  • $2,000 or less when the minor is less than 2 years younger than the adult
  • $5,000 or less when the minor is at least 2 years younger than the adult
  • $10,000 or less when the minor is at least 3 years younger than the adult
  • $25,000 or less when the adult is over 21 years of age, and the minor is under 16.

Aggravated sexual assault of a minor: Per Cal. Penal Code § 269, this crime occurs when an individual performs any of the following sexual acts to a child below age 14 or who is 7 or more years younger than them:

  • Rape, sodomy, oral copulation, or sexual penetration using force, violence, menace, duress, or fear of instant or unlawful bodily injury on the minor victim or another person.
  • Rape, sodomy, oral copulation, or sexual penetration by threatening retaliation in the future.
  • Rape or sexual penetration, where the perpetrator conspired with someone else to commit the crime or the other party aided and abetted them.

Bigamy: Per Cal. Penal Code § 281, anyone who has a living spouse and marries or enters a registered domestic partnership with someone else is guilty of bigamy. However, this law does not apply when one spouse or domestic partner has been absent for 5 consecutive years, and the other partner is not aware that they are alive. Also, an individual will not be accused of bigamy if the former marriage or registered domestic partnership has been annulled or voided by the court.

The crime of bigamy attracts a civil penalty not exceeding $10,000 and a 1-year prison term to be spent in a county jail or state prison.

Sexual contact with an animal: Here, sexual contact means any act between a human being and animal performed for sexual arousal or gratification, abuse, or monetary gain that involves contact between one’s genitals and the other’s mouth, sex organs, or anus. It also constitutes the insertion of any person’s body or an object into an animal’s sex organs, or vice versa, that is not for genuine veterinary or animal husbandry reasons (Cal. Penal Code § 286.5). It is a misdemeanor offense.

Sodomy: California defines this as sexual contact of a person’s penis with another’s anus. Any sexual penetration of this sort constitutes a crime of sodomy, and offenders will be punished as follows:

  • If the act is committed with a person under 18 years of age, the prison term is a year or less in a county jail or imprisonment in a state penitentiary.
  • If an individual over 21 years and participates in sodomy with a person under 16 years of age, it is a felony.
  • If one party is over 10 years older than the other who is under 14 years old, the sentence is 3, 6, or 8 years.
  • If the act of sodomy was performed on a minor below 14 years of age using force, violence, menace, duress, or fear of instant and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or someone else, the penalty is imprisonment for 9, 11, or 13 years. However, if the victim is 14 years or older, the prison term is 7, 9, or 11 years.

In addition to these punishments, the court may impose a $70 fine on the offender. A complete list of criminal penalties upon a conviction of sodomy can be found under Cal. Penal Code § 286.

Sexual Acts with Children 10 Years or Below: Anyone 18 years or older who engages in sodomy, sexual intercourse, sexual penetration, or oral copulation with a child 10 years or younger is guilty of a felony. When the crime involves sodomy or sexual intercourse, the punishment is 25 years to life in prison. However, it is 15 years to life when the culprit engages in sexual penetration or oral copulation with a child.

Indecent exposure: Under Cal. Penal Code § 314, any person who willfully or lewdly exposes their private parts or naked body to someone who would be annoyed or offended by it is guilty of indecent exposure. The law also defines indecent exposure as an offensive exposure of the genitals or naked body for sexual gratification purposes.

An individual can be charged with a misdemeanor for a first offense and held for 6 months or less in county jail. The court can also assess a fine of up to $1,000 against the offender. Any subsequent offense of indecent exposure is a felony in California.

Incest: Defined as marriage or sexual relations between individuals who are too closely related. The law deems any such union as incestuous and void. Anyone guilty of incest can be incarcerated in the state prison (Cal. Penal Code § 314).

Note: California’s laws regarding sexual offenses are detailed yet complex. As such, the above information represents some, not all, of the state’s sex offenses and penalties. Consulting an experienced criminal lawyer on the state’s sentencing guidelines can save time and effort that would be spent combing through several laws and legal resources published online or made available at a local law library.

What Types of Sex Offenders Exist in California

California operates with a three-tiered registration system—which took effect in 2021. Prior to this, the state maintained a lifetime registration requirement for convicted sex offenders. Under the updated 2021 system, sex offenses fall into three broad categories based on several factors, such as the:

  1. Offender’s criminal history
  2. Severity of the crime
  3. Risk of a re-offense (recidivism)

Before January 1, 2020, California did not operate a tier-based classification system for sex offenders. All persons convicted of a sexual offense were regarded as your typical sex offenders, habitual sex offenders, or sexually violent predators. However, California’s Senate Bill (SB) 384 introduced three tiers of sex offenders into the Sex Offender Registration Act (Cal. Penal Code § 290).

Under the new law, judges consider certain factors before assigning an offender to a tier. This evaluation is based on the gravity of the sex offense, the offender’s prior convictions, the offender’s risk to society, and more. California’s tier designations also determine the periods that a person is mandated to register as a sex offender in the state.

Tier One Sex Offenders:

This level comprises low-level sex offenders—persons convicted of misdemeanor sex crimes and certain non-violent felony sex offenses. Examples of some Tier 1 crimes include but are not limited to:

Note: California law allows for a conditional exclusion of Tier 1 offenders from the public Megan’s Law registry. The state permits exclusions except in instances where offenders pose a demonstrable threat.

Tier 1 adult sex offenders must stay on the registry for at least 10 years, while juvenile offenders must register for a minimum of 5 years. An individual who has passed this minimum can petition the court to remove their information from the registry.

Tier Two Sex Offenders:

This category is for the mid-level sex offenders. Starting July 2021, any person who falls under this category must register as a sex offender for a minimum of 20 years (10 years if a minor). Examples of mid-level felonies in this tier include:

Tier Three Sex Offenders:

This category is reserved for persons convicted of severe or violent sex crimes. Most convicted rapists, pedophiles, sex traffickers, and repeat offenders end up here.Tier 3 encompasses offenders convicted of serious sex crimes. People who fall in this category must remain registered as sex offenders for life. Examples of convictions that fall under Tier 3 include:

  • Pandering of a minor (§ Code 266h)
  • Rape (§ Code 261)
  • Felony possession of child pornography (§ Code 311.11)
  • Kidnapping during the commission or attempted commission of rape (§ Code 207 and § Code 209)
  • Continuous sexual assault of a minor
  • Murder committed during attempted or committed rape ((PC Sections 261, 286, 288, 287, or 289)
  • Transporting a juvenile under 16 for a lewd purpose
  • Aiding a rape (§ Code 264.1)

Unlike other levels, a tier 3 sex offender will remain on the registry forever. The individual cannot petition a local superior court for removal.

How to Find a Sex Offender Near Me in California

Under Cal. Penal Code § 290.46 (also known as the California Megan’s Law), residents can find a sex offender near them through an internet site maintained and updated daily by the California Department of Justice (DOJ). The overall goal is to enhance individual safety in the community.

Nevertheless, the public cannot view a victim’s information (name, date of birth, address, or relationship to the offender) or the sex offender’s employer’s information on the California DOJ’s Megan’s Law website. Furthermore, not all registered sex offenders are available on the database as the law prohibits disclosure of certain offenders. For example, tier 1 sex offenders (unless they pose a threat to society) and offenders whose applications to exclude their information from the site were approved under Cal. Penal Code § 290.46 (e).

Ordinarily, the Megan’s Law site is sufficient to find most sex offenders in California. Still, residents can contact their local sheriff’s offices or police departments for more information. For instance, the Fremont Police Department allows residents to come in within specific business hours to view a public database. Local public libraries may also offer this service.

California Sex Offender Registry

California was the first state to implement sex offender registration laws in 1947. Today, the California Sex Offender Registry (or Megan’s Law website) is a statewide repository that provides sex offender information to interested members of the public. The sex offender data available on the registry is sourced from the California Sex and Arson Registry (CSAR) database, a nonpublic version of the registry accessible only to law enforcement officials.

There are two ways to find sex offenders on the Megan’s Law site:

  1. Through the California Sex Offender Name Search tool, or
  2. Using the California Sex Offender Map Search tool

Members of the public can begin name searches by entering someone’s first and last name into the applicable search fields and clicking “search.” On the other hand, they can input a street number, street name, city, zip code, and use a .75 to 10-mile radius to search for offenders by their addresses with the map search tool. (Inputting an apartment/suite number is optional.) Either way, the following information will come up in search results:

  • The sex offender’s full name
  • Known aliases
  • Physically identifying data (e.g., picture, eye color, weight, scars, gender)
  • Last reported home address
  • The sex crime mandating the conviction
  • The year of last conviction and release.
  • Risk assessment level

Users can also see if an offender violated their registration requirements. Generally, anyone can use the Megan’s Law website, whether they reside in California or not. However, any unauthorized use is a punishable offense. If the perpetrator uses the information to commit a misdemeanor, the penalty is a fine between $10,000 and $50,000. Meanwhile, if the individual uses the data to commit a felony, such a person will incur a 5-year prison sentence. All resulting penalties are added to any other one prescribed for the original crime.

Likewise, registered offenders are banned from accessing the Sex Offender Registry. Per Cal. Penal Code § 290.46 (i), the penalty for this offense is a fine not above $1,000, a jail sentence not above 6 months, or both.

What Happens When You Register as a Sex Offender in California?

Upon registering as a sex offender in California, a person’s life changes. Where in the past, the individual’s identifying information was protected by privacy laws, that information becomes available to anyone with interest. The result is the collapse of a person’s social standing and ensuing hardship in finding suitable employment or housing in the state. Also, given California’s strict sex offender registration laws, the courts may order GPS monitoring or parole conditions that will prevent an offender from residing near a park, school campus, or a place where children gather.

Generally, California requires certain sex offenders to register their information at a law enforcement agency within 5 working days of their release into society. Once registered, they must update their data within the 5 working days leading up to or after their birthdays each year, except they are homeless or sexually violent predators. Homeless sex offenders (transients) must re-register at 30-day intervals, while sexually violent predators must update their data every 90 days. Also, if the party moves to a new residence or becomes homeless, they must report the change to a local police agency within 5 working days.

When offenders fail to comply with these requirements, they can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony failure to register, depending on the underlying sex conviction. A misdemeanor failure to register results in a year or less in jail, while a felony failure carries a prison sentence of up to 3 years.

What is the California Sex Offender Registry?

The California sex offender registry provides regularly updated statewide information on known sex offenders and sexually violent predators. Details on the registry may include the name, description, and zip code of known offenders. In compliance with the California Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), anyone found guilty of a sex crime while residing, schooling, or working in California must register with the local police department or sheriff's office. Registration may last for ten years, 20 years, or for life, depending on the crime.

Who Runs the California Sex Offender Registry?

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains the state’s sex offender registry. It compiles records from registration agencies located across the state. To ensure the information remains accurate, sex offenders are required to update their information whenever they move or change their residence. In 2021, the registry assisted with the registration and monitory of over 100,000 registered California Sex offenders.

Who Can View the California Sex Offender Registry?

Almost anyone may view the sex offender registry except for convicted sex offenders. Offenders who break the law by visiting the registry may be jailed, asked to pay a fine, or both. In 1947, California passed the first U.S statewide sex offender law, which mandated the registration of anyone found guilty of a sex crime. Registry laws were later amended in 1996, following the passage and adoption of Megan’s Law. Megan’s Law requires that local law enforcement officials provide public access to information on registered sex offenders.

Note: The California sex offender registry does not provide information on every registered sex offender. Tier 1 offenders may be excluded from the list.

What are the Sex Offender Laws in California?

California has several sex laws, which govern the tracking, registration, and proximity of sex offenders as well as the penalties for sex offenses. These include:

  1. Chelsea's Law (also known as the Chelsea King Child Predator Prevention Act)
  2. Megan’s Law
  3. Jessica’s Law (Jessica's Law Sex Offender Penalties and Restrictions Initiative)

What is Chelsea’s Law?

Chelsea’s Law is a California legislation that defines how the state deals with individuals convicted of sex crimes. It adjusts parole provisions, increases penalties, and modifies the state’s oversight system. Signed into law in 2010, Chelsea’s law is designed to help protect children in the state. Some of the provisions in the law include:

  • Increased parole for offenders convicted of felony sex crimes
  • Increased evaluation, oversight, and polygraph testing for offenders on probation or parole
  • A prohibition against loitering new parks where kids gather for parolees convicted of sex offenses against a minor
  • Introduction of a one-strike life-without-parole penalty for predators who commit violent crimes against kids
  • Upgrades to the Megan’s Law website to facilitate the easier flow of public data

What is California's Megan’s Law?

California’s Megan’s law authorizes the public disclosure of information relating to sex offender registrants (PEN § 290.46). It’s named after Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old who was abducted and murdered by a registered sex offender in 1986. Under the law, the California Department of Justice is mandated to notify the general public about offenders who might pose a risk. The department does this via the Megan’s Law Website—an online registry that’s backed with registration information sourced from the California Sex and Arson Registry (CSAR).

Note: Megan’s law is a federal law that mandates the public disclosure of sex offender information. Every state operates with some version of this law, including California.

What is Jessica’s Law?

Approved by California voters in 2006, Jessica’s law sets specific residency restrictions on sex offenders. The provisions of the law (PEN [3000 - 3007.08]) prevent offenders from living within 2.000 feet of a park or school by creating sexual predator-free zones. The law also requires that sex offenders wear GPS monitoring at all times. The law also:

  • Increased the court-imposed fees for convicted sex offenders
  • Removed the option of probation for some crimes such as lascivious acts or spousal rape
  • Increased the definition of some sexual offenses
  • Extended the parole length for some offenses
  • Increased the penalties for sex offenses
  • Eliminated early release credit for some crimes as well as offenders with multiple convictions in specified felony sex offenses

In 2015, the California Supreme court overturned Jessica’s law as unconstitutional. As a result of this ruling, Jessica's law is no longer a blanket rule. Instead, judges set restrictions on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors that determine residency restrictions include:

  • The offender’s criminal history
  • The likelihood of the offender committing another crime
  • The nature of the committed sex offense

Can a Sex Offender Live With Their Family in California?

Sex offenders may live with family members. California law also permits two offenders to live together in the same residence if they are connected by adoption, marriage, or blood.

How Long Do Sex Offenders Have to Register in California?

Mandated registration for sex offenders may last anywhere from five years to life. The exact length depends on a variety of factors, such as the offender’s age and severity of the crime. Individuals convicted of the most severe crimes such as rape will likely remain registered for life.

Do Sex Offenders Have to Notify Neighbors in California?

Sex offenders residing, schooling, or working in California are not required to notify neighbors of their crimes or sex offender status. However, convicted offenders must register with local authorities every time they move to a new address—within five working days of relocation. Notifications may be made in person or by writing, except in cases where an offender moves to a new jurisdiction. In such instances, offenders must re-register in person. Offenders without a home or offenders who have no fixed address are considered transient and must re-register every 30 days.

The California DOJ maintains and provides open access to sex offender information via its Megan’s Law site. It allows for searches by name, street number, city, and zip code. This means residents can easily search to see if an offender lives close to their home. In some neighborhoods, homeowner associations may proactively share or publish information of known sex offenders within the community with resident members.

Note: The Fair Housing Act doesn’t provide protection to sex offenders. No law prohibits owners from declining to sell to a registered offender. California laws also do not prevent offenders from buying property in a neighborhood. However, property owners who use the information obtained from a registry to harass an offender may themselves be convicted of a crime.

Do Sex Offenders Have to Put Up a Sign in Their Yard in California?

Sex offenders in California are not required to put up a sign in their yard. However, the state requires that offenders wear GPS tracking while on parole. Offenders are supervised with a passive or active GPS monitoring system, which transmits real-time information to a monitoring station. Law enforcement officials receive instant notifications if the GPS device detects that the wearer is within an exclusion zone. The state may also mandate that sex offenders disclose their email addresses and other internet identifiers to law enforcement officials.

How Close Can a Sex Offender Live to a School in California?

Depending on their convicted crime, sex offenders may be able to live opposite or right next to a school. California courts make the decision on just how close an offender’s residence must be to a school on a case-by-case basis. This means, while some offenders can reside close to a school with almost no restrictions, others may be restricted from living within a few feet or several miles of a park, school, or any place where kids might gather.

Residency laws for sex offenders in California laws have evolved over the years. Between 2005 and 2015, the California penal code (Code § 3003 (a) (b) (2005) prevented high-risk sexual offenders and sexually violent predators from residing within a one-half mile of a day center, school, park, or anywhere kids congregated. However, a California supreme court ruled that this law was unconstitutional because it increased the odds of sex offenders becoming homeless by severely limiting their housing options. It also made it harder for convicted offenders to access rehabilitative social services.

How to Look Up Sex Offenders in California

The California Megan’s Law website serves as a central repository for public sex offender data. It provides information on registered sex offenders living in different parts of the state by zip code and city. The searchable database provides regularly updated information extracted from the California Sex and Arson Registry (CSAR) and compiled daily by city and county law enforcement agencies. In addition to providing information on registered offenders, the CSAR also provides updates on persons who may be violating the terms of their registration. The website provides different options for searches, including name-based, map-based, and proximity-based searches.

California Sex Offender Name Search

Members of the public can lookup sex offenders using the name-based option by entering the first and last name of a suspected offender.

California Sex Offender Map Search

Residents can search for offenders living in a particular area using the website’s map search tool. Users will need to provide a street number, street name, city, and zip code to use this feature. Searches can be expanded from 1 to 10 miles around a location. Results can also be expanded to include transient offenders within the specified map range.

Note: The California Megan’s Law website does not provide information on _all_registered offenders. It excludes the information of persons guilty of Tier 1 crimes—except in cases where the court decides that the offender poses a significant risk. Tier 1 and Tier 2 offenders who have met certain requirements may also be able to petition the court to have their names and information removed from the list.

Can You Expunge a Sex Offender Charge in California?

California law permits the expungement of some sex crimes as long as offenders meet certain requirements. However, an expungement is impossible for offenders who have been convicted of committing high-level felony crimes such as:

  • Sodomy with a minor
  • Forceful sexual penetration with a minor
  • Sexual abuse of a child
  • Showing obscene literature to a minor
  • Enticing or luring a child
  • Child Pornography
  • Unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor (committed by an adult over 21)
  • Lascivious acts with a minor

In order to qualify for consideration of an expungement, offenders must have met several requirements. Some of these include:

  • Offenders must not have served a prison sentence
  • Offenders must have fulfilled all the terms of their sentencing, including paying a fine and completing probation
  • Offenders must not have committed any other crime since the last offense for which they seek expungement

An expungement does not rule out the need for offenders to register. California law requires that offenders obtain permission from a court judge in order to be taken off the registry. This can be provided via a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR). While the process of obtaining a COR typically takes an average of two to six months, offenders may only apply after a “satisfactory period of rehabilitation”. This is defined to mean: A continuous five-year residency in California prior to application and an additional 24 to 60 months, depending on the crime.

Is Public Urination a Sex Offense in California?

Public urination is generally not a sex offense in California. Nevertheless, a law enforcement officer may arrest a citizen for public urination under a different charge of indecent exposure—which is prosecutable as a misdemeanor sex offense. Citizens convicted of indecent exposure may be punished with a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail. A public indecent exposure is also considered a Tier-One sex offense—which carries a mandated 10-year registration.

What is Indecent Exposure in California?

California defines indecent exposure as the willful exposure of a person’s genitals or naked body in the presence of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification.

Note: Although California does not have any laws that specifically prohibit public urination in public spaces, it has a statute that bars public urination in transportation vehicles such as a bus or train. Residents caught urinating in public can also be arrested under a separate charge of public nuisance.

How to Report a Sex Offender in California

Members of the public who believe a child may be at risk from a person or sexual offender are encouraged to contact the city police, county sheriff’s office, or the county’s Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (S.A.F.E) Team. A multi-jurisdictional task force, the S.A.F.E task force is charged with multiple objectives some of which include:

  • Assisting with sexual assault investigations
  • Monitoring Sex offenders
  • Identifying and apprehending sexual predators
  • Tracking convicted sexual predators

Residents can also confirm if a person or suspected sex offenders or child offender by visiting the state’s online sex offender registry or contacting the:

California Department of Justice Sex Offender Tracking Program,
P.O. Box 903387,
Sacramento, CA 94203-3870,
(916) 227-4974

Failing to register is a serious crime. California laws qualify the first-time violation as a misdemeanor and subsequent violations as a felony. A three-strike violation could potentially lead to a life sentence. Offenders who fail to meet registration requirements may be prosecuted for each violated offense. For instance, an offender may receive a charge for failing to inform an official of a new address and a separate charge for failing to update his registration—even though both offenses originate from the same act.

Interested members of the public may also obtain public record information from third-party websites. These privately owned sites typically host data culled from public databases and repositories. However, the information available on third-party sites may vary since they are independent of government sources. In order to use a third-party site, record seekers may be required to provide all or some of the following information:

  • The full name on the record of choice
  • The last known or current address of the named individual
  • The address of the requestor