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What Are the California Sex Offender Registry Laws?

If you have been convicted of a sex crime that requires you to register on the sex offender registry and you’re planning to move to a new state, it is your responsibility to research the laws in that state to ensure you’re in compliance with them. For instance, sex offender registration in California is different from sex offender registration in Florida. If you’re planning a move to California, here’s what you need to know.

Moving To or Within California

Sex offenders in other states can move to California, but they have to register with the chief of police in the city they’re moving to within five days of moving there. Certain high risk sex offenders, particularly those who are considered Tier 2 and Tier 3 offenders, may have restrictions on where they can live. For example, they may not be able to live within 2,000 to 2,640 feet of a school or park. However, if you have not received a court-ordered restriction, then you can live anywhere you wish in California.

Penal Code 290 in California requires sex offenders to notify the chief of police in the city in which they live every year within five days of their birthday, whether they have moved or not. Additionally, if they move to another location in California, they must also notify their new local law enforcement agency of their residence within five days of their move.

Registration Requirements

The registration requirements in California changed as of January 1, 2021, allowing more flexibility in who has to register and for how long. There are now three tiers of sex offender status that determines how many years a sex offender has to register in California:

  • Tier 1 Offenders – people convicted of the lowest level of sex offenses such as misdemeanor sexual battery or indecent exposure must register with their local law enforcement agency annually and whenever they move for at least 10 years.
  • Tier 2 Offenders – people convicted of mid-level sex offenses such as lewdness with a minor under 14 and non-forced sodomy with a minor under 14 years old must register with their local law enforcement agency annually and whenever they move for at least 20 years.
  • Tier 3 Offenders – people convicted of the most serious sex crimes such as rape, sex crimes against children 10 and younger, sex trafficking of children, and repeated sex crimes must register with their local law enforcement agency annually and whenever they move for life.

Neighborhood Notification

In California, sex offenders are not required to notify their neighbors of their registry status, even if they’ve been convicted of a Tier 3 sex crime. However, based upon the tier of conviction, Megan’s Law requires that certain address information of sex offenders be  available to the public on the Megan’s Law website. Some convictions allow only the offender’s zip code, city, and county be available to the public, while other convictions require the entire home address of the offender be made available.


Failure to register properly with your local law enforcement agency in California can result in an additional misdemeanor or felony charge (depending on your original conviction). A felony charge related to not registering for the California sex offender registry can result in up to three years in prison, so it’s to your benefit to know the laws and comply with them.

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