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Higbee & Associates, a national law firm

California Sex Registration Termination FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

This page was designed to help our clients better understand our California Sex Registration Termination service. You will find answers to the questions we are most frequently asked. If your question is related to eligibility requirements please take the free online eligibility test.

How long do I need to register in California?

You must register until the court has granted you the termination of your registration obligation.

You may petition to have your registration obligation terminated once a minimum period has elapsed. That period usually depends on the Tier level you are classified under. In California, there are Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III level offenders. Tier I offenders must register a minimum of 10 years, Tier II offenders must register a minimum of 20 years (with a narrow exception to terminate after 10 years), and Tier III offenders must register for their lifetime unless their Tier II status is based solely on their risk-level evaluation. In that case, a Tier III offender must register a minimum of 20 years before petitioning the superior court to terminate their obligation.

Cal. Penal §§ 290.5 & 290(e).

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Can I petition to terminate my registration requirement early?

Usually not. There is no avenue to request to terminate your registration requirement early if you are a Tier I offender. You must complete the minimum period of 10 years time before you may request the termination.

For Tier II offenders, the minimum requirement is 20 years. However, under narrow circumstances, you may request after a minimum of 10 years. Only if: 1) the registerable offense involved no more than one victim 14 to 17 years of age, 2) you were was under 21 years of age at the time of the offense; 3) the registerable offense is not a “violent felony” defined under subdivision (c) of Section 667.5, except subdivision (a) of Section 288; and (4) the registerable offense is not one that included False Imprisonment and Human Trafficking under Section 236.1.

For Tier III offenders, they usually must register for their lifetime. However, if their status as a Tier III offender is based solely on their risk-level after a SARATSO static, dynamic, or other violence risk assessment instrument, you may be eligible to terminate your obligation to register as a sex offender. To be eligible as a Tier III offender, you must register a minimum of 20 years since release, have not been convicted of a new offense requiring sex offender registration or that was a “violent felony”, and your registrable offense can not have been under section 288, or a “serious felony” offense under subdivision ( c) section (1) of Penal Code section 1192.7. We strongly recommend eligible Tier III clients obtain a new assessment that indicates a lower risk level before attempting to terminate their registration.

Cal Penal § 290.5 (a)(1),(b)(1)-(3).

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What if I don’t know what tier I am?

You can contact your local registering agencies (typically the law enforcement office where you reside) to provide you with your tier notification letter.

We can also be hired to research your case for you and determine what tier you are and if you are eligible to have your sex offender registration terminated. We charge a small fee to do so and that will apply to the total for any service you subsequently sign up for.

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What if I don’t agree with my tier designation?

We can be hired to research your case(s) for you and determine what tier you are and potentially what tier you should be. We can then discuss options if the case records and applicable law indicate you have been mis-tiered.

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I moved from a state where I did not need to register. Do I have to register in California when I move to California?

This depends on whether the offense you committed is substantially similar to a California offense that requires registration.

If you are required to register in the state you sustained your conviction and move to California, and there is no equivalent California offense, you will be designated as a Tier II offender unless there are aggravating factors.

Cal Penal Code § 290(d)(4).

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What if I have multiple cases?

New cases that follow your registrable sex offense can impact your eligibility in several ways:

  • You cannot petition to be relieved of your duty to register if you’re currently serving a sentence. You cannot be in custody, on probation, or on parole and petition for termination. Cal Penal Code § 290.5(a)(2).

  • Any time you spend in custody once you begin your minimum registration period does not count towards your minimum time. For example you were convicted of a Tier I registrable sex offense in 2010. From 2015 to 2016, you spend 1 year in county jail for a new offense. Even though the minimum waiting period for a Tier I offender is 10 years, you will have to wait 11 years from release from your conviction because the year in jail you spent does not count towards your minimum time, enabling you to petition in 2021.

  • If you are subsequently convicted of failing to register, this also extends the time period you must wait before petitioning the court. Every misdemeanor conviction for failure to register extends the minimum period by 1 year, and every felony conviction for failure to register extends your minimum period by 3 years. Cal Penal Code § 290(e).

  • If you are convicted of another offense that requires you to register, it will reset the minimum time you must wait before petitioning to terminate at the highest applicable Tier. Cal Penal Code § 290(e).

  • Subsequent serious or violent felony convictions may impact your chances of success when the judge determines the risk you may present if your registration is terminated.

It’s important to disclose your entire criminal history to us, both in California and out-of-state offenses so that we can give you the best, most accurate legal advice.

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What happens if my petition is denied?

We will evaluate why the petition was denied, and provide you the best options for moving forward.

California law allows the judge to order when you may re-petition for termination from the registry. It is at least one year before you can re-petition for relief, but can be extended to as many as five years by the denying judge.

If you are a Tier III registrant asking for termination and are denied, you may not re-petition for at least three years.

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Do I have to go to court?

While California law does not strictly require it, we would strongly recommend you attend your hearing if one is set. A hearing will only be held if the District Attorney’s Office objects to the petition for termination.

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How long does the process take?

This process is a new one for the entire state of California. Therefore, there is likely to be confusion and delay for the various government agencies who play a role in the termination process. Based on our experience and because so many applicants will be trying to terminate their obligation, in the beginning, we expect the process to take anywhere from 8 to 10 months but this is simply an estimate.

Factors that will impact the timeframe are your individual circumstances, the court’s workload at the time, and whether there are any objections from the District Attorney’s Office. The court is required to give the government and other interested parties an opportunity to respond before a hearing or decision is made.

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Can the process be done faster?

The courts work on a first-come, first-served basis. Furthermore, the statute provides that both the California Department of Justice and the County District Attorney’s where you reside and where the registrable offense occurred (if different) have an opportunity to respond before the Superior Court takes any action. That alone is likely to take several months. Therefore, the sooner you sign up, the sooner your case is considered and decided.

For an additional fee, we can speed up the preparation process within our office, but we cannot change how the Court and government work. Promptly providing us pertinent documentation as it is requested will also help keep the process efficiently moving forward.

Please be aware that you may not file the petition before your first birthday following July 1, 2021. Cal. Penal Code § 290.5(a)(1).

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What happens after the judge grants my petition?

The court will notify the California Department of Justice and California Sex Offender Registry once your request to terminate you from the registry is granted. It is good practice to wait for confirmation or to confirm with both the State and your local registration agency exactly when your registration duties end so there are no problems and so you don’t get accused of failing to register. Cal. Penal Code § 290.5(a)(5).

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Will terminating my sex offender registration have any effect on my conviction?

If the court releases you from sex offender registration, the release has no effect on the conviction. The conviction remains on your record, but you will not have to continue to register.

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Can my conviction still be used against me for a future conviction?

Yes. The conviction does not go away.

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Can I become a schoolteacher, nurse, or other occupation after I am released from sex offender registration?

The conviction still remains and you cannot legally deny that you have that conviction just due to your removal from the registry. Whether you qualify for those positions depends on the requirements of the various state licensing boards. Typically, those determinations are on a case-by-case basis.

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Will termination of my registration as a sex offender restore my right to own a firearm?

No, terminating your sex offender registration does not affect your right to own a firearm.

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The first step towards a better life begins with finding out if you are eligible for California Sex Registration Termination.

FREE Eligibility Test


Call us at Toll Free (877) 573-7273
Please take the free online eligibility test before calling.

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5 I am overwhelmed with joy that I found this service, I thought that I was going to live with the albatross for the rest of my life. They made this process as easy as it possibly could be and for an incredibly affordable rate. I could not be happier.
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