In March 2015, the California Supreme Court ruled that a state law restricting where registered sex offenders could live was unconstitutional. Furthermore, according to the California Department of Justice, “Due to its lifetime sex offender registration requirement and a population exceeding an estimated 35 million residents, California today has the largest number of registered sex offenders of any state.”
The particular law, a housing restriction known as Jessica’s Law, barred sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. In practice, this tough-on-crime approach made it literally impossible for many offenders to find housing in compliance with the law in large or densely populated areas. The court determined that Jessica’s Law “greatly increased the incidence of homelessness among sex offenders, and hindered their access to medical treatment, drug and alcohol dependency services, psychological counseling, and other rehabilitative social services available to all parolees.”
Even though that particular law was struck down by the California Supreme Court, registered sex offenders in California still have to contend with a patchwork of laws, and many live in constant fear that they will somehow violate their residency or reporting requirements. In fact, these are some of the most common questions our Riverside criminal defense lawyers receive.
Questions like: Can you move from one city to another or from one state to another if you are a registered sex offender? What happens if I fail to update my information on time? What if I am attending college in California as a sex offender?
On this page, we’ll tackle all of these questions and more. Our Riverside criminal defense lawyers are experienced in dealing with Megan’s Law, California Penal Code § 290.46, and other relevant laws.
Sex Offenders and Megan’s Law
Since 1996, California’s version of Megan’s Law has allowed law enforcement to notify the public about registered sex offenders in their area, which requires those offenders to update local agencies about their residency.
Whether you live in San Francisco, Riverside, or anywhere else in the Golden State, California law requires that “persons convicted of specified sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders with a local law enforcement agency.” If this pertains to you, you should have received a written notification with your exact reporting requirements in the mail. If you have not, speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Registered sex offenders must update their information every year within five working days of their birthday; however, some offenders must update far more often. For instance, transient sex offenders must update their information with a local agency every 30 days, while violent sex offenders must update every 90 days. There are also qualifying events that require you to update your information, such as a change of address or sudden loss of housing.
Can You Move Cities or Out of State If You Are a Registered Sex Offender?
Megan’s Law may not prevent you from moving to a new city or state, but certain probation agreements may place additional restrictions on your ability to relocate. Please do not think that moving away will release you from the burden of registering as a sex offender. Also, because different states have different versions of Jessica’s Law, Megan’s Law, and similar reporting laws, always check relevant local laws in the state to which you relocate.
Here’s what the California Department of Justice has to say about moving as a sex offender:
“Registrants with residence addresses must notify the last registering agency in writing within five working days of moving, and must re-register in person if the move is to a new jurisdiction (Pen. Code § 290.013.). If a move makes a person homeless, he or she must register as a transient within 5 working days of leaving the residence address…Transients, who re-register no less than every 30 days, need not re-register upon changing their location unless to a destination outside the state, in which case the transient must give written notification of his move to the law enforcement agency in whose jurisdiction he or she was physically present before leaving the state, within five working days of leaving. Transients who move into a residence must register at that address within 5 working days of moving there.”
You may be able to move, so long as you notify both your local agency and another agency in the jurisdiction you plan on moving to. Remember to do so quickly, or risk criminal charges. If you still aren’t clear about the relevant laws, consider hiring a criminal defense lawyer near you for more information.
Going to College Out of State as a Sex Offender—Registration of Sex Offenders Who Come to School or Work in California
Remember, “Any person who resides, or is living as a transient upon, or is enrolled at or employed by any university, college, community college or other institution of higher learning, must register with the campus police department,” or the law enforcement agency where the school is located.
What about those convicted of a sex offense in another state, but who must travel to California for school or work? Out of state students or employees still must register as sex offenders in California, even if you are only an employee or student on a part-time basis. If you are required to register as a sex offender in another U.S. state, then you must register in California, even if you maintain your out-of-state residency and only stay in California temporarily.
If you still have questions about moving or registering as a sex offender in California, then you may benefit from working with criminal defense lawyers who have experience dealing with sex crimes. Contact an attorney at Greenberg & Greenberg, APLC today to get started.