Certificates Of Rehabilitation And Sex Offender Registration

A Certificate Of Rehabilitation Can End Sex-Offender Registration

Since 1947, California law has required those convicted of certain sex crimes to register with local law enforcement agencies. Over the years, this law ― which is now known as Megan's Law ― has not only compelled countless individuals to adhere to strict registration and reporting guidelines, but it has also imposed severe restrictions as to where offenders can actually live.

However, California law does provide an option for ending sex-offender registration when an individual has been sufficiently rehabilitated. Specifically, the process is completed using a legal tool in California known as a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

What Is A Certificate Of Rehabilitation?

Essentially, a Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court document declaring a person has been rehabilitated, and consequently, allows the convicted individual to get back some of his or her civil rights which may have been previously denied due to his or her status as a convicted felon.

In the context of sex crime convictions, California law expressly states a Certificate of Rehabilitation relieves an individual of his or her duty to continue registering as a sex offender ― thus alleviating him or her of the severe living constraints and reporting obligations.

However, there are many requirements a person must meet before he or she can obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation. For instance, a person convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor sex offense that requires sex offender registration may file for a Certificate of Rehabilitation ― and therefore end his or her duty to register ― only if:

  • He or she has had the sex-offense conviction expunged pursuant to California law.
  • He or she has been discharged from custody or probation.
  • He or she has not been incarcerated in any jail, prison or other penal institution since the conviction was expunged.
  • He or she is not currently on probation for any other felony.
  • He or she has resided for at least five years in California prior to filing for the Certificate of Rehabilitation.
  • He or she has completed an acceptable period of rehabilitation following release from custody, which typically lasts for 10 years if he or she was convicted of an offense for which sex-offender registration is required.
  • He or she has lived an honest and upright life.

However, it is important to note that Certificates of Rehabilitation are not necessarily available for all sex offenses. Indeed, current California law already excludes individuals convicted of certain sex offenses from seeking Certificates of Rehabilitation, not to mention that lawmakers are considering adding to the list of exempted offenses.

Ultimately, the process of ending sex-offender registration by obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation can be quite complex, which is why it is best to speak to a knowledgeable attorney if you have any questions. An experienced attorney can help explain your available options and assist in the petitioning process if that is what you choose to do.