California Penal Code 290 PC makes it a crime for a sex offender to fail to register with their local police station. The state requires sex offenders to report annually on their birthday and after moving to another address.
The Sex Offender Registration Act under PC 290 allows police to track the residence of sex offenders through the required registration process.
The primary goal is to keep people in the community safe by allowing anyone to access information about nearby offenders. Despite these requirements, some sex offenders fail to register or don't register on time.
Whether or not their actions were on purpose or a lack of knowledge, it often has severe consequences, including incarceration.
Failing to register as a sex offender can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the underlying sex offense. In this article by our California criminal defense lawyers, we will discuss this subject further below.
What Are the Registration Requirements?
California Penal Code 290 PC requires a defendant charged with certain sex crimes to register as a sex offender. They can be charged with a separate offense if they don't register within a specific time frame.
Sex offenders must register at their local police station as long as they live in the state. They must register with the sheriff or county if their area does not have a police department.
Students living in the University of California's housing complexes or a community college must register with their campus police chief. Further, sex offenders must also register:
- every year within five business days after their birthday;
- when an offender relocates within five working days of the move;
- transient offenders have to register every thirty days with local police.
A closely related statute to Penal Code 290 failing to register as a sex offender includes Penal Code 667.71 habitual sex offender law.
What Crimes Require Mandatory Sex Registration?
Ordering a sex offender registry results from a court sentence and can either be discretionary or mandatory.
The judge will order mandatory registration if the defendant is convicted of certain crimes under California Penal Code 290c. These severe offenses involve sexual violence, abusing minors, and other violent acts, such as:
- Penal Code 647.6 PC – annoying or molesting a child,
- Penal Code 288.5 PC – continuous sexual abuse of a child,
- Penal Code 314 PC - indecent exposure,
- Penal Code 311.1 PC- child pornography,
- Penal Code 288.4 PC - arranging a meeting with a minor,
- Penal Code 261 PC – rape,
- Penal Code 288 PC – lewd acts with a minor,
- Penal Code 286 PC - sodomy
- Penal Code 287 PC – oral copulation with minor,
- Penal Code 266h and 266i PC – pimping and pandering,
- Sex crimes against children,
- Aggravated sexual assault,
- forced oral copulation.
What Sex Crimes Are Discretionary?
In some cases, the sex does not fall under subdivision (c) of Penal Code 290 PC. The court, however, could still deem the crime worthy of registration as a sex offender.
The case has to meet the standard of occurring due to a sexual compulsion or sexual gratification, which is based on different factors listed below:
- type of crime,
- criminal record of the defendant,
- victim's age,
- motivation for the offense.
What are the Criteria for Failing to Register?
A defendant can't be charged with failing to register as a sex offender unless all the following factors are met:
- prior conviction: they must have a court conviction of a sex crime discussed under Penal Code 290(c) PC,
- place of residence: whether they lived in California,
- lack of Knowledge: prove they didn't know they had a duty to register.
- intent: proof the offender intentionally avoided sex registry with police despite knowing their obligation.
What Are the Punishments?
PC 290 failure to register as a sexual offender will result in a misdemeanor or felony charge depending on the underlying sex offense. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, then the penalties include:
- up to one year in county jail,
- a fine up to $1,000,
- summary (informal) probation,
If you are convicted of a felony crime, the penalties include:
- 16 months, two, or three years in jail,
- a fine up to $10,000,
- felony (formal) probation.
What Are the Defenses for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender?
If you have been accused of failing to register as a sex offender that violates Penal Code 290 PC, it might be possible to get the charges reduced or dismissed. There are two primary defense strategies, including:
- lack of knowledge,
- not a willful act.
Recall from the discussion above that the prosecutor must be able to prove you knew you had a legal duty to register to obtain a conviction. Perhaps we could make a reasonable argument under the circumstances that you didn't know you were supposed to register.
The prosecutor must also show you willfully failed to register. Likewise, perhaps we could show you didn't act willfully or on purpose. The criminal courts consider failing to register as a serious matter. This means you will need a qualified legal team to have the best chance at a favorable outcome.
We have decades of experience in criminal defense; we can help you avoid the most severe penalties associated with failure to register.
Negotiation with the prosecutor and law enforcement might be possible to avoid the formal filing of charges in the first place, which is called a “DA reject.” Our legal experts take on your case aggressively, crafting a strategy as unique as your case and always with your best interests in mind.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a top-ranked law firm based in Los Angeles County, serving people across Southern California. We offer a free case consultation by phone or by filling out the contact form.