April 12, 2023 By Stephen Klarich

People v. Thai: Petitioning for Termination from the Sex Offender Registry

Under California Penal Code Section 290, people convicted of sex crimes against a child must register as a sex offender while they live, work, or attend school in California. After a minimum registration period, however, sex offenders may petition to be terminated from the registry. In the case of People v. Thai, the court found that requiring continued sex offender registration is an abuse of discretion where the prosecution presented no evidence that the offender is currently a risk to the community. Continue reading to learn more about the case, and contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today to see how we can help you get off the sex offender registry for a chance at a brighter future. 


In 1997, Sonny Kim Thai pled guilty to committing a lewd and lascivious act upon a child under the age of 14 years, a crime under PC Section 288(a). The trial court sentenced him to 3 years in prison and ordered sex offender registration pursuant to PC Section 290. 23 years later, Thai filed a petition for termination from the sex offender registry. However, the prosecution filed an opposition, arguing that the offense was particularly egregious and that Thai took complete advantage of a 12-year-old boy. Thai’s defense counsel, on the other hand, stated that the prosecution’s evidence all dated from the time of the offense, and there was no evidence that Thai was currently a danger. The court denied the petition and ordered that Thai could not re-petition for termination for 5 years. 


Thai appealed from the trial court’s order denying his petition for termination from the sex offender registry, and the appellate court ultimately reversed the order. Under SB 384, a person can seek termination from the sex offender registry if he/she meets certain criteria, including completing a mandated minimum registration period. The prosecution may request a hearing and present evidence to establish that community safety would be significantly enhanced by requiring continued registration. In other words, the prosecution must provide sufficient evidence to show that continued registration would significantly increase society’s safety. In determining whether the prosecution met this burden of proof, the court considered several factors: 

  • Nature and facts of the offense 
  • Age and number of victims 
  • Whether any victim was a stranger at the time of the offense 
  • Criminal behavior before and after conviction 
  • Time period during which the person has not reoffended 
  • Successful completion of a sex offender treatment program 
  • Current risk of sexual or violent reoffense 

Here, the appellate court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding. The prosecution failed to establish that Thai, who is currently 64 years old, is likely to reoffend now. Thai has stated that he would complete counseling, and his comments have indicated remorse and a willingness to participate in a treatment program. As such, the order denying Thai’s petition was reversed. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you are tired of sex offender registration holding you back from employment or personal opportunities, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. At Wallin & Klarich, we understand how tough sex crime cases can be, but we seek to create a comfortable, judgment-free zone for you to tell your side of the story. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys have helped thousands of clients with their petitions for termination from the sex offender registry, and we have the skills and resources to help you restore your freedom and reputation. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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