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Name: People v. Smyth (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 22
Case #: C097934
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/24/2024

The trial court did not err in concluding that individuals who are not registered in California are ineligible for relief under Penal Code section 290.5. Defendant appealed from the trial court’s order denying his section 290.5 petition for termination from the California sex offender registry. Defendant is not registered as a sex offender in California but is currently registered in Oregon, where he resides. The petition was denied because the court found defendant is not currently registered as a sex offender in the county that he filed the petition in or in California more broadly. On appeal, defendant argued the denial of his petition must be reversed because the requirement that a petition be filed in the county where the individual is registered is contrary to legislative intent, absurd, and violates equal protection. Held: Affirmed. Section 290 requires people convicted of certain sex crimes to register as sex offenders as long as they reside, attend school, or work in California. Commencing January 1, 2021, Senate Bill No. 384 established procedures for a person to seek termination from the sex offender registry. As relevant here, section 290.5(a)(1) provides that a person required to register under section 290 may file a petition for termination in the county in which they are registered. This fact alone evinces the Legislature’s intent to provide relief to only those individuals who are registered in California. Further, SB 384’s legislative history demonstrates that the bill was designed to rectify problems with California’s sex offender registry by removing low-risk offenders from the duty of life-long registration, alleviating the burden of perpetual surveillance on law enforcement, and eliminating unwarranted public concern. As someone not registered in California, none of the Legislature’s concerns apply to defendant and it is not absurd to exclude him from relief.