The California Court of Appeal issued an opinion on April 25 that expands the eligibility for a Certificate of Rehabilitation to a specific group of sex offenders. Prior offenders that were convicted of Penal Code section 288(a) are now eligible to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, which can terminate the lifetime registration requirement.
Freedom from Sex Offender Registration Requirements
Court Held that Current Laws are Unconstitutional
The appellate court held that the current state law, which allows a defendant convicted of a sex offense against a child under the age of 10 under PC 288.7 to obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation while denying that same opportunity to one convicted of molesting a child under the age of 14 under PC 288(a), is unconstitutional.
The court had previously ruled the same way in this case (People v. Tirey) back in November of 2013. However, the Attorney General filed an appeal which temporarily rendered the ruling void. With the court’s decision last Friday, offenders convicted of Penal Code section 288(a) are again eligible to petition for a Certificate and to terminate their registration requirement.
Senate Considering Bill That Would Remove the Opportunity for PC 288(a) Offenders to Petition for Relief
There is currently a bill pending in the legislature that would reverse the court’s decision and remove the ability for these individuals to petition for this relief from the court. Assembly Bill 1438 would make changes to the laws governing Certificates of Rehabilitation and sex offender registration, specifically the bill would make those conviction of PC 288.7 ineligible for a certificate and registration termination
AB 1438 was passed by the Assembly on April 24 and has been referred to the Senate for consideration. The bill would remove the unequal protection problem that exists in the current statute, closing the opportunity currently available to those with a PC 288(a) conviction.
The court’s opinion reversed the denial of Tirey’s Certificate of Rehabilitation and remanded the case back to the trial court, where the court must consider the application on the merits but is not required to grant the certificate.
What Does This All Mean?
Penal Code 288(a) offenders are eligible to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and to terminate the registration requirement, and this decision requires the court consider the petition. It is unclear how long this relief will remain available and it is recommended you take advantage of this opportunity now. Because of AB 1438, individuals that are impacted by this case are advised to prepare and file a petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation as quickly as possible.