Challenging sex offender registration – what can be done?

The punishment for sex offenses can be quite harsh.  The biggest consequence is the lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender under Penal Code section 290.  Recent case law has made some changes to that requirement, however.

Recently, I was asked whether an online police sting operation that didn’t involve a true “victim” would fall in the Rantsch/Hoffsheier argument against lifetime registration where the offense plead to was attempted 288 – attempted child molestation.

The Ranscht decision, along with Hoffsheier and other cases that have now been interpreting sex offender registration requirements in cases, may not necessarily apply to your situation. In Ranscht, the comparison was made between underage sex acts and unlawful sexual intercourse. The non-mandatory registration for unlawful sexual intercourse compared to mandatory registration for the sexual penetration was found to be a denial of equal protection because of how offenders with similar situations were differently situated under the law.

The problem for your case is the charge plead to. The attempted 288 carries a specific sexual intent. Offenses that DO require registration tend to include that sexual intent, such as 288(a).   Every attempt itself is a specific intent crime – that is you specifically intended to do the underlying crime, but what that target crime is matters.  If you attempted a general intent crime (such as many of the underage sex offenses that don’t have their own specific intent built in), then the Rantsch/Hofsheier issue may come into play.

The prosecution must prove that a defendant acted with the specific intent if it is required as an element of the charged offense.  Assuming it was in fact attempted 288(a) [as opposed to 288a], then the plea and admission does include an acknowledgment of the required specific intent.

This is just an overview of the laws regarding registration. The specific allegations, facts as set forth in the police reports and the plea itself will help determine what, if any, relief you can seek. This is something way more complex than a question posted over the internet.

You have only a limited window to attempt to withdraw your plea following a grant of probation. If you are intent on setting this aside, you need to act quickly. If you wait too long, the options are more limited.

Joe Dane, Orange County Criminal Defense

(714) 532-3600