When an individual is convicted of certain California sex crimes, the law provides that he/she is required to register as a sex offender pursuant to California Penal Code 290 PC.1 The California Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains and operates this sex offender database in its Sex Offender Tracking Program. This information is then made available to the public via the DOJ's "Megan's Law" website.2
In order to better understand when you can have your personal information removed or excluded from the Megan's Law website, our Los Angeles sex crimes defense attorneys will address the following:
If, after reading this article, you have additional questions, we invite you to contact us.
You may also find helpful information in our related articles on How Sex Offender Registration Works in California, Failure to Register as a California Sex Offender, and California Sex Crimes.
Enacted in 1996, California's Megan's Law allows the government to notify the public about sex offenders whom it believes pose a public safety risk. The law was named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed by a known child molester who moved across the street from Megan's family without the family's knowledge.
Each state now has some form of Megan's Law.
The good news is that there are two ways to prevent your information from being publically posted on the Megan's Law website. The first involves automatic exclusion. The second involves an exclusion application.
Although neither process will relieve you of your lifetime duty to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 PC, your identifying information will be removed from the Megan's Law website. And as San Bernardino criminal defense attorney Michael Scafiddi explains3, "This can make a world of difference to your freedom, privacy, and even your personal safety."
There are basically three categories of sex offenders with respect to disclosure on California's Megan's Law website. These categories include:
- the home address category,
- the zip code category, and
- the undisclosed category.
What category an individual appears in depends on the specific sex offense for which the individual was convicted.
The website posts the complete address of those who are convicted of the most serious sex offenses. Examples include (but are not limited to):
- anyone designated a sexually violent predator4,
- Penal Code 187 murder committed during the commission or attempted commission of rape or another specified forced sexual act5,
- Penal Code 207 kidnapping with the intent to commit rape or another specified forced sexual act6,
- Penal Code 261 rape when accomplished through force or fear7,
- Penal Code 288a involving certain acts of oral copulation,8 and
- Penal Code 288 involving certain felony lewd acts with a minor9.
Those who are convicted of slightly less serious offenses have only their zip codes posted. Examples of these offenses include (but are not limited to):
- Penal Code 243.4 felony sexual battery by restraint10, and
- a variety of misdemeanor sex offenses that involve minors.
Finally, those convicted of any of the offenses that are not specifically addressed in the other categories are actually excluded from public disclosure. Examples of these include (but are not limited to):
- a variety of charges related to California child pornography laws11,
- Penal Code 288.2 sending harmful matter to a child intending to seduce that child12, and
- Penal Code 653f(c) solicitation of another to commit rape, oral copulation, or sodomy by force.13
It is important to understand that just because you don't appear on the Megan's Law website does not mean that you are relieved of your lifetime duty to register as a sex offender...but it does alleviate the scrutiny that goes along with public registry.
If you were convicted of
- Penal Code 243.4(a) sexual battery by restraint,
- Penal Code 647.6 Annoying or Molesting a Child14 (formerly Penal Code section 647a), or
- any offense which did not involve penetration or oral copulation, the victim of which was your child, stepchild, grandchild, or sibling and you have successfully completed...or are successfully completing...probation for the offense ("probation" implies that you were not sentenced to the California State Prison...and additional requirement for this exclusion under this section),
you may be entitled to have your information removed from the Megan's Law website.15 In order to initiate this process of removal, you must submit a Megan's Law exclusion form to the California Department of Justice.
If you meet the above criteria, the Department will approve your application for exclusion. With respect to the first two offenses, the application is very straight forward. With respect to the third, you must prove that you meet the exact requirements before the DOJ will exclude you from the Megan's Law website.
It should be noted that even if you meet the above criteria, a finding that you are a "sexually violent predator" will exclude you from eligibility.16
Approval typically takes about 30 days from the time you submit the application for exclusion until you receive a confirmation or denial letter from the DOJ.
Not necessarily. As long as you aren't subsequently convicted of violating your probation with another sex offense, your information will remain excluded from the Internet. However, if you do pick up another sex offense, your exclusion...or application for exclusion...will terminate and your information will then reappear on Megan's Law website.
It is important to understand that the only criminal offenses that will terminate your exclusion are sex offenses. If you commit a sex offense that is not one of the crimes that allows you to apply for exclusion...or commit an offense in connection with one of those listed offenses...you will not be able to reapply. If, however, you are convicted of one of those crimes and meet the exclusion criteria, you can reapply to have your information removed from the website.
Yes. If you qualify for and receive either (1) a certificate of rehabilitation, or (2) a California Governor's pardon...and are therefore relieved from the duty to register as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code 290, your information will be removed from the Megan's Law site.
However, an expungement under Penal Code 1203.4 does not remove you from Megan's List (though it is beneficial in other ways).
For more information about California sex crime expungement, certificates of rehabilitation, and Governor's pardons, please review our article on How Sex Offender Registration Works in California.
If you have additional questions, or would like to discuss your case confidentially with one of our criminal defense attorneys, we invite you to contact us.
We have local criminal law offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Orange County, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities to conveniently serve you.
1California Penal Code 290 PC -- Sex Offender Registration Act; lifetime duty to register...("(a) Sections 290 to 290.023, inclusive, shall be known and may be cited as the Sex Offender Registration Act. All references to "the Act" in those sections are to the Sex Offender Registration Act. (b) Every person described in subdivision (c), for the rest of his or her life while residing in California, or while attending school or working in California, as described in Sections 290.002 and 290.01, shall be required to register with the chief of police of the city in which he or she is residing, or the sheriff of the county if he or she is residing in an unincorporated area or city that has no police department, and, additionally, with the chief of police of a campus of the University of California, the California State University, or community college if he or she is residing upon the campus or in any of its facilities, within five working days of coming into, or changing his or her residence within, any city, county, or city and county, or campus in which he or she temporarily resides, and shall be required to register thereafter in accordance with the Act. (c) The following persons shall be required to register [it should be noted that the commission of the majority of these offenses will result in publication of your identifying information on the California Megan's Law website]: Any person who, since July 1, 1944, has been or is hereafter convicted in any court in this state or in any federal or military court of a violation of Section 187 committed in the perpetration, or an attempt to perpetrate, rape or any act punishable under Section 286, 288, 288a, or 289, Section 207 or 209 committed with intent to violate Section 261, 286, 288, 288a, or 289, Section 220, except assault to commit mayhem, Section 243.4, paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), or (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 261, paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 262 involving the use of force or violence for which the person is sentenced to the state prison, Section 264.1, 266, or 266c, subdivision (b) of Section 266h, subdivision (b) of Section 266i, Section 266j, 267, 269, 285, 286, 288, 288a, 288.3, 288.4, 288.5, 288.7, 289, or 311.1, subdivision (b), (c), or (d) of Section 311.2, Section 311.3, 311.4, 311.10, 311.11, or 647.6, former Section 647a, subdivision (c) of Section 653f, subdivision 1 or 2 of Section 314, any offense involving lewd or lascivious conduct under Section 272, or any felony violation of Section 288.2; any statutory predecessor that includes all elements of one of the above-mentioned offenses; or any person who since that date has been or is hereafter convicted of the attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above-mentioned offenses.")
2California Penal Code 290.46 PC -- Sex offender information made available to public via Internet Web site...(" (a)(1) On or before the dates specified in this section, the Department of Justice shall make available information concerning persons who are required to register pursuant to [Penal Code] Section 290 to the public via an Internet Web site [the Megan's Law website] as specified in this section. The department shall update the Internet Web site on an ongoing basis....") This Penal Code section explains, in detail, what personal information the website will display, based on the specific offense committed.
3San Bernardino sex crimes defense attorney Michael Scafiddi uses his inside knowledge as a former police investigator to defend clients in the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire.
4California Welfare & Institutions Code 6600 - Definitions. ("(a)(1) "Sexually violent predator" means a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense against one or more victims and who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior.")
5California Penal Code 187 -- murder defined. ("(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.")
6California Penal Code 207 -- kidnapping defined. ("(a) Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals or takes, or holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping.")
7California Penal Code 261 - Rape. Rape is defined as nonconsensual intercourse accomplished by threats, force, or fraud. It should be noted that a conviction for this, either of the above two offenses, or designation under endnote 4, above will result in your identifying information being published on the California Megan's Law website.
8California Penal Code 288a - Oral Copulation. Oral copulation is prohibited when it is accomplished by threats, force, or fraud, or when its takes place between an adult and a minor.
9California Penal Code 288 - Lewd acts with a minor. ("(a) Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony.")
10California Penal Code 243.4(a) - Sexual battery by restraint. ("(a) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery. A violation of this subdivision is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, and by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000); or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000).") If this is the only crime of which you are convicted, you can apply for exclusion from the California Megan's Law website.
11California child pornography laws under California Penal Code 311 and its related sections prohibit: distributing child pornography, employing minors to participate in or help produce child porn, possessing child porn, advertising child pornography, and developing, duplicating, printing, or exchanging child porn. For purposes of California child pornography laws, a "child" is anyone under 18, unless he/she is an emancipated minor or involved in lawful conduct between spouses when either or both of the individuals are under 18.
12California Penal Code 288.2 - Harmful matter sent with the intent to seduce a minor. ("(a) Every person who, with knowledge that a person is a minor, or who fails to exercise reasonable care in ascertaining the true age of a minor, knowingly distributes, sends, causes to be sent, exhibits, or offers to distribute or exhibit by any means, including, but not limited to, live or recorded telephone messages [or by electronic mail, the Internet, as defined in Section 17538 of the Business and Professions Code, or a commercial online service] any harmful matter, as defined in [California Penal Code] Section 313 PC, to a minor with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or of a minor, and with the intent or for the purpose of seducing a minor, is guilty of a public offense and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison or in a county jail.
13California Penal Code 653f(c) - Soliciting the commission of rape, oral copulation, or sodomy by force. ("(c) Every person who, with the intent that the crime be committed, solicits another to commit rape by force or violence, sodomy by force or violence, oral copulation by force or violence, or any violation of [California Penal Code] Section 264.1, 288, or 289 PC, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.")
14California Penal Code 647.6 - Child molestation. ("(a)(1) Every person who annoys or molests any child under 18 years of age shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment. (2) Every person who, motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children, engages in conduct with an adult whom he or she believes to be a child under 18 years of age, which conduct, if directed toward a child under 18 years of age, would be a violation of this section, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.")
15California Penal Code 290.46 -- Sex offender information made available to public via Internet Web site. ("(e)(1) If a person has been convicted of the commission or the attempted commission of any of the offenses listed in this subdivision, and he or she has been convicted of no other offense listed in subdivision (b), (c), or (d) other than those listed in this subdivision, that person may file an application with the Department of Justice, on a form approved by the department, for exclusion from the [California Megan's Law] Internet Web site. If the department determines that the person meets the requirements of this subdivision, the department shall grant the exclusion and no information concerning the person shall be made available via the Internet Web site described in this section. He or she bears the burden of proving the facts that make him or her eligible for exclusion from the Internet Web site. However, a person who has filed for or been granted an exclusion from the Internet Web site is not relieved of his or her duty to register as a sex offender pursuant to [California Penal Code] Section 290 PC nor from any otherwise applicable provision of law. (2) This subdivision shall apply to the following offenses: (A) A felony violation of subdivision (a) of Section 243.4. (B) Section 647.6, if the offense is a misdemeanor. (C)(i) An offense for which the offender successfully completed probation, provided that the offender submits to the department a certified copy of a probation report, presentencing report, report prepared pursuant to Section 288.1, or other official court document that clearly demonstrates that the offender was the victim's parent, stepparent, sibling, or grandparent and that the crime did not involve either oral copulation or penetration of the vagina or rectum of either the victim or the offender by the penis of the other or by any foreign object. (ii) An offense for which the offender is on probation at the time of his or her application, provided that the offender submits to the department a certified copy of a probation report, presentencing report, report prepared pursuant to Section 288.1, or other official court document that clearly demonstrates that the offender was the victim's parent, stepparent, sibling, or grandparent and that the crime did not involve either oral copulation or penetration of the vagina or rectum of either the victim or the offender by the penis of the other or by any foreign object.") These are the California sex crimes that allow you to have your identifying information removed from the Megan's Law website.
16See endnote 4, above.