List of Sex Crimes in Each Tier Under California’s Tiered Registry System

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If you are facing a sex offense charge in San Diego, it is important to understand the consequences that may apply.

California currently requires individuals who have been convicted of designated sexual offenses to register with their local police station or sheriff’s department.

The current registration requirement is lifetime registration. Starting January 1, 2021, however, the sex-offender registry system in California will be divided into three tiers.

Two of which will allow for registration termination after certain requirements are met.  

If you would like to speak with a California sex crimes attorney, please contact the team at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC today.

What Are the Three Tiers of the Sex Offender Registry in California? 

Under the new California Penal Code section 290, the sex-offender registry in the state is divided into three tiers.

Eligibility for each tier is determined case by case and is subject to evaluation and determination by a judge.

The criteria that a judge will consider include the severity of the crime, the number of offenses, and the results of risk assessment tools. 

Registrants from tiers one and two must remain registered for a mandatory minimum number of years.

Those who meet mandatory minimum requirements under the new rule can petition for termination of their sex-offender registration requirement.

The mandatory minimum period begins on the date of release from incarceration, placement, or commitment.

If you believe you meet the mandatory minimum, you must continue to register until a California court grants your termination. 

If you disagree with your tier designation, you should consult with an attorney to determine whether you can appeal the decision. 

Tier 1

Tier one convictions include a sexual battery (misdemeanor and felony), misdemeanor child pornography, and indecent exposure.

Individuals who are ordered to register by a court are designated as tier one unless the court finds that the person meets the criteria for tier two or tier three designation.

The court must make these findings on the record.

The mandatory minimum registration period for individuals deemed tier-one registrants is ten years if they were convicted in adult court and five years if they were convicted in juvenile court. 

Tier 2

Tier 2 convictions include incest, rape (if the victim is over 18), and lewd acts with a minor under 14.

If the court determines the individual must register as a tier two registrant, the mandatory minimum registration period is 20 years if they were convicted in adult court and ten years if they were convicted in juvenile court. 

Tier 3 

Tier 3 convictions include sex trafficking children, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and sending harmful material to seduce a minor.

If a court determines that the registrant must register as tier three, the mandatory minimum registration period is lifetime registration.

Different Charge Levels: State vs. Federal 

In California, as in other states, the charges for sex offenses differ at the state and federal level.

If you are required to register in California after being convicted in another state, or at the federal level, then your tier will be assessed based on the equivalent California registrable offense.

If there is no such equivalent, you will be registered as a tier two registrant. However, you may be subject to tier three registration if you meet one of three exceptions.

What Is Megan’s Law?

In 1994, the federal government passed the Wetterling Act, which required all 50 states to establish sex-offender registries.

In 1996, the government amended the Act to require states to make information about sex offenders that are deemed relevant to public safety available to the public.

This amendment is called Megan’s Law. 

Under California Megan’s Law, found at Penal Code section 290.46, the California Department of Justice must maintain a website that provides information regarding sex-offender registrants.

Information provided on the website includes the registrant’s name, home address (for the more serious offenders), the sex crime for which they were convicted, and physically identifying information. 

Registrants who meet certain criteria can apply for exclusion under Megan’s Law.

Due to recent changes in the law, if you were previously granted exclusion from the California Megan’s Law website, you may no longer be eligible for exclusion.

The California Department of Justice determines whether exclusions permitted under the previous law are still eligible for exclusion under the new amendments.

If you were previously granted an exclusion, you should consult with an attorney to determine whether you are still eligible.

Please be advised, if you are a registered sex offender in California, it is illegal for you to access the sex-offender registry information on California’s Megan’s Law website. 

Hire An Experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to Help 

The sex offender registry system in California will soon undergo significant changes.

To ensure that you don’t miss out on possible termination of your registration requirement, it is important to seek the help of an experienced attorney.

The sex crimes attorneys at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, have a strong record of defending individuals on the sex offender registry.

You don’t need to go through this alone.

We will walk you through your options, step by step. We will help you determine the strongest defense strategy for your case. 

Contact us today for a free confidential case review.

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Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.