The petitioning process under the Tiered Registry Law has begun. A quick look at the first 60 days of the process shows uneven results.
The best news is that two petitions have already been granted. Both petitions were filed in San Diego County and both petitions did not trigger an objection from the county’s District Attorney.
The good news is that court personnel and other government officials at most locations are trying to help registrants who file their own petitions as well as attorneys who file petitions for their clients. This help has even come in the form of phone calls meant to iron out wrinkles in the petitioning process.
The bad news is that there are other government officials who are creating new requirements that are not included in the Tiered Registry Law. For example, one county official required a registrant to obtain a state government form to prove that he is currently registered even though he was provided a different form when he registered. Another county required a “wet” signature on the petition form. These government requirements can be viewed as minor hiccups that are necessary in order to clarify a process that is complex.
The truly bad news is that there are legal professionals making claims regarding the petitioning process upon which they cannot deliver. For example, it is reported that an attorney in Los Angeles county is promising registrants assigned to Tier 3, the highest tier which requires lifetime registration, that he can — for a fee of $60,000 — change their tier assignment to a lower tier and make the registrant eligible to petition for removal from the registry.
This is a hollow promise. That is because there is no mechanism available at this time that allows an attorney or anyone else to obtain relief for a person who has been correctly assigned to Tier 3 with only one exception. That is because tier assignments are based, in large part, upon the offense for which a person has been convicted and that fact cannot be changed. The only exception is limited to individuals who can meet the following stringent criteria: their tier assignment is based only on a risk-level assessment, they have registered for at least 20 years, they have not been convicted of a new sex offense, and they have not been convicted of a serious offense of any kind.
What are the lessons to learn from the beginning of the petitioning process? Be patient, lower your expectations and beware of legal professionals who not only claim they can help you achieve the impossible but also charge you exorbitant fees.