If a male defendant engages in voluntary sexual activity with a female juvenile between the ages of 14 and 17, the California sex offender legislation requires judges to order them to register as sex offenders. The legal system takes the victim's and defendant's ages into account. Anyone who has sex with a juvenile who is not old enough to consent faces charges of statutory rape. Along with prison time and court fines, sex offender registration is typically an additional punishment. After their release into society, the state and members of the public can find and beware of sex offenders.

The registration gives the general public and federal and local authorities important information about convicted sex offenders. This statute has undergone several modifications to accommodate the LGBTQ population. Therefore, if you are a member of the LGBTQ community and are facing accusations of being a sex offender, you need to understand the legal ramifications of the new amendment and how to protect your legal rights.

Overview of the California Sex Offender Law

In California, sex crimes are some of the most harshly penalized offenses. They significantly violate the victim's dignity. According to California PC 290, people found guilty of certain sex offenses must enter their names and addresses in the registry. It entails submitting their identification information to the local police annually. Those convicted of sexual offenses must register within five days of their birthday and within five days of moving. The purpose is to ensure that both the federal and local governments and the general public are aware of a known sexual offender living among them.

The type of underlying sex offense considerably impacts the registration requirements. After the approval of Senate Bill 384, a three-tier registration structure will be used for California's sex offender registration starting in January 2021. Most sex crimes no longer require convicted offenders to register for life. Depending on the type of offense you commit, the judge can require you to register under any of the following categories:

  • Tier 1 — As part of this registration requirement, you must register for ten years after your conviction. This category includes convicted sex offenders for low-level sex offenses like indecent exposure and sexual battery.
  • Tier 2 — You must enlist in the sex offenders registry for at least twenty years under this level. This category includes persons guilty of mid-level sex offenses like lewd or lascivious actions with a minor and sodomy with a minor.
  • Tier 3 — If you meet the criteria under this level, you must permanently register your information in the sex offenders registry. This group mainly includes those guilty of numerous sex offenses and more serious sex crimes like rape, sex crimes against children under ten, or trafficking minors for sex.

It is crucial to comprehend your obligations under California PC 290 and how to follow the law requirements if a judge finds you guilty of a sexual offense that bears the sex offender registration requirement. You could also seek legal counsel and advice from a qualified criminal attorney.

California Sex Offender Law Inclusive to LGBTQ Community

Regarding the rights of members of the LGBTQ community, California is one of the most liberal states in the U.S. Since the 1970s, the LGBTQ community has enjoyed widespread recognition, and since 1976, same-sex relationships have been legal. However, the group has long faced prejudice, which has compelled them to keep their sexual aspirations and relationships a secret from the general population. In 2003, California went a step further by enacting rights against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity. Since that time, transgender people have been permitted to change their legal gender in all official papers without the need for medical treatment. Conversion therapy with kids does not necessarily require the supervision of mental health professionals.

California is gradually changing its laws to encompass the LGBTQ community. For example, in September 2021, Gavin Newsom, California Governor, enacted a new law to amend the one allowing judges to identify specific sex offenders if they had consensual anal or oral intercourse with adolescents 14 years or older. Any vaginal sexual actions involving a juvenile are forbidden under the old statute, known as statutory rape. However, it excluded scenarios where an adult has anal or oral intercourse with a minor with their consent.

Statutory rape laws have historically been directed at male offenders facing charges for having sex with female adolescents. The gender of the offender or victim will not be considered under this new amendment. The prosecution will take the minor's age, the age gap between the minor and the perpetrator, and the nature of the sexual act into account while seeking a conviction.

Most individuals believe that the previous sex offender statute discriminated against youthful LGBTQ people who have consensual sex with minors who are almost their age. These individuals believe that it is unethical for judges to order these minors to register as sex offenders. In contrast, heterosexual offenders of the same or very related offenses are not required to do so. Since this rule permits at least ten years of an age difference between perpetrators and their victims, there is still much ongoing debate regarding the old sex offender law.

Despite who it pertains to, critics of the older sex offender law contend that it shields pedophiles. When two young people fall in love, and one turns 18 a little bit before the other, the statutory rape law is known to apply in these cases. The old law's opponents also believe that older people above 18 who engage in sexual activity with children 14 years or older should be in violation of the law.

Provisions of the Previous Sex Offender Registration Law

California has had a sex offender law for a very long time. If a man had consensual sex with a female minor between 14 and 17, a criminal court judge could decide whether to order that man to register as a sex offender. The law also applies when the perpetrator and victim have an age difference of not exceeding ten years. Keep in mind that California's legal consent age is 18.

Adults who engage in sexual activity with children under 18 can thus face charges for statutory rape. That portion of the fundamental legislation is unaltered. However, the new amendment modifies the requirement to register as sex offenders. Remember that a judge's order to register as a sex offender could last the rest of your life.

The Amendments

With the signing of SB 145 into law, the new changes to the sex offender law came into force. The California age of consent to sexual acts remains unchanged under this new statute. Furthermore, nothing is altered when a youngster under 13 is the victim of a sexual act. The modifications make the law's provisions more inclusive of oral and anal sex rather than just vaginal sex. The new law should allow criminal court judges to sentence homosexuals who engage in sexual activity with children who are at least ten years older than they are.

Judges and prosecutors can now consider cases involving young people engaging in consensual sexual activity, regardless of the young people's sexual orientation. Now, each statutory rape case will be reviewed individually.

Due to its nature, this new amendment is still up for debate. But some people are in favor of the changes. Everyone, including the LGBTQ community, is welcome in California. Therefore, regardless of how they appear, who they are, or who they love, all Californians must be treated fairly and equally by the state's laws and legal system. Keep in mind that the primary goal of this regulation is to safeguard adolescents from engaging in sexual acts they cannot consent to. Therefore, it should shield them from anyone who could prey on their innocence, whether a man or a woman.

However, some critics of this new amendment believe that the age gap of ten years mandated between sex offenders and their victims under this rule is too lenient. Some people believe this age gap encourages predatory behavior and that if other legal changes are not implemented, most predators will go unpunished. However, it is crucial to remember that judges will not let significant instances of statutory rape go unpunished. Keep in mind that courts and prosecutors will approach each case separately, depending on the relevant facts. Therefore, it is likely that those who commit sex crimes against minors will face the consequences they deserve.

What To Expect After the New Amendment

With the passage of California SB 145, judges now have the same latitude to exercise in cases where a minor and a young adult engage in consensual vaginal sex acts. In situations like those, the presiding judge has the discretion to order the offender to register in the state sex offender registry if the offender is not more than ten years older than the victim and is engaging in sexual activity with a minor between the ages of 14 and 17. Consensual partnerships between same-sex young people, where one is a juvenile and the other could be an adult, are among the new amendments.

Additionally, the proposed amendments expand the scope of a judge's discretion to cover cases involving anal and oral sex. Before the amendment, regardless of whether the sexual actions were consensual, any adult who had an anal or oral sexual act with a juvenile between the ages of 14 and 17 was automatically required to register in the registry.

The amendment considers the types of relationships that young people today have, including homosexual and heterosexual. It seems unreasonable to demand gays to register automatically after engaging in consenting sexual activity with a kid. The old statute was viewed as discriminatory against the LGBTQ population since courts had complete freedom to rule in situations involving vaginal sex but not anal or oral sex.

Example: Consider a scenario where a 20-year-old boy is involved in sexual activity with a 16-year-old girl. That is a clear-cut case of statutory rape. However, under the old law, even if the offender is found guilty of engaging in sexual activity with a minor, the court retains complete discretion to order or not order the criminal to register as a sex offender. But even if the intercourse were consensual, the judge would send the offender straight to the sex registry if it involved a 20-year-old boy having anal or oral sex with a 16-year-old boy.

With the new amendment, judges can evaluate each case individually and assess whether or not the criminal merits a mandate to register as a sex offender.

Keep in mind that the amendment does not alter the requirement that anybody who has engaged in sexual activity with a child under the age of 14 register.

It is a life-changing obligation to register as a sex offender. Your name, address, and other information, including your photo, are all listed on the registry so that anyone who runs a background check on you can find it. This could impact your social and professional lives. Additionally, it will impact how others treat you. If a potential employer runs a background check on applicants, they could pass on you even if you meet all the other requirements. Because you have been convicted of a sexual offense, landlords can opt not to rent or lease to you. To avoid having to register as a sexual offender, you should get legal counsel and advice if you face sex-related charges.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Near Me

Do you or someone you know in Los Angeles face statutory rape charges?

An obligation to register as a sex offender can follow your conviction. But everything hinges on the specifics of your situation. It is crucial to understand the latest changes to the sex offenders registry and how they can affect your sentencing if you are a member of the LGBTQ community. Therefore, get in touch with the Law Office of Sara L. Caplan. To challenge the underlying sex charges and the sex offender registration requirement, our team of knowledgeable criminal lawyers will examine the specifics of your case. Our goal is to resolve your case fairly. To find out more about our legal services and your options, contact us at 310-550-5877.