Failing to Register as a Sex Offender (California Penal Code 290)
Being convicted of a sex crime in California can be devastating, and often results in a lengthy jail sentence and public humiliation. The stigma does not end once you leave the confines of your cell and re-enter society. A conviction for most California sex crimes means that you may have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
Sex offender registration is not to be taken lightly. Sex offenders are required to register every year within 5 days of their birthday, every 30 days if they are a transient or homeless, and every time they move.1 Willfully failing to register or follow any other requirement required by the Sex Offender Registration Act, is a violation of California Penal Code 290. This violation is classified as a ‘continuing offense’, meaning that every time you fail to register, you are committing a new criminal offense2
If you are on parole, failing to register as a sex offender is a violation of your parole. Additionally, if the underlying sex crime conviction was a serious or violent crime, a violation of Penal Code 290 could subject you to a harsher sentence under California’s three strikes law.
If you are currently required to register as a sex offender under the California Sex Offender Registration Act and wish to attempt to stop this requirement or receive relief from your duty to register, contact our sex crimes attorneys for answers to your questions. Visit our page on Relief from the California Sex Offender Registry to find out more.
Prosecution for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
In order for you to be convicted of violating Penal Code 290, the prosecution must prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. You were previously convicted of or were found to have committed a sex offense that required you to register as a sex offender;
2. You resided in an incorporated or unincorporated area or a city, campus, or facility within California;
3. You actually knew you had a duty under Penal Code 290 to register as a sex offender and that you had to register within five working days of your date of birth or change of residence; AND
4. You willfully failed to register as a sex offender with the police chief or sheriff of that city, county or campus facility within five working days of your date of birth or change of residence.3
Under this law, willfully is defined as a purposeful act, meaning the prosecution must prove you intended not to register.4
Sentencing and Punishment for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
If you are convicted of violating Penal Code 290, your punishment will be based on the underlying sex crime conviction. This means that if you were convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime, the violation of Penal Code 290 will be charged as a misdemeanor. If you were convicted of a felony sex crime, or if you have multiple convictions for this offense, the violation of Penal Code 290 will likely be charged as a felony.5
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor Penal Code 290 violation, you face a sentence of up to 364 days in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.6 If you are convicted of a felony Penal Code 290 violation, you face a sentence of 16 months, two or three years in state prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.7
Possible Defenses to Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
If you have been charged with violating Penal Code 290, a skilled criminal defense attorney can raise several defenses on your behalf. These defenses may include:
Extenuating circumstances prevented registration within the required timeframe – In most situations, Penal Code 290 requires you to register within 5 working days of a prescribed event. However, extenuating circumstances beyond your control may have delayed your ability to register in time (e.g. you were hospitalized, you were traveling and were delayed several days due to weather conditions, etc.). A skilled sex crimes defense attorney will be able to present these factors as a defense in your case.
You were incompetent or unaware that you were required to register – Conviction of a violation of Penal Code 290 requires the prosecution to prove that you willfully failed to register. If you can show that you were unaware of your requirements or were unable to understand the specific requirements of your registration, then you may have a strong defense in your case.
You were falsely accused or subject to police misconduct – Those who have been convicted of a sex offense are often heavily stigmatized, and have been known to be subject to misconduct by law enforcement. A skilled sex crimes attorney may be able to show that you were falsely accused or subject to police misconduct when you tried to register with the authorities in your area. This may be a viable defense to the charge of failing to register.
Frequently Asked Questions about Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
At Wallin & Klarich, we frequently receive questions from those facing charges of violating Penal Code 290. These include:
I simply forgot to register within the specified time-frame, can I still be charged with violating Penal Code 290?
Yes. While a conviction requires proving that you willfully failed to register, stating that you simply forgot to register is not a valid defense.
I registered at the beginning of the month before my birthday, and then moved the following week. Do I need to register again?
Yes. You are required to register any time you change your address or move to another residence, even if you have already registered on your birthday. A failure to do so could lead to charges being brought against you.
Is there any way for me to get off of the sex offender registry?
Depending on the specifics of your underlying crime, you may qualify for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. Under certain circumstances, receiving a Certificate of Rehabilitation can release you from the requirement that you register as a sex offender.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today if You Have Been Charged with Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
Wallin & Klarich has been successfully defending those facing charges of violating Penal Code 290 for over 30 years. We can help you, too.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a skilled Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. California Penal Code Section 290↩
2. CALCRIM 2015, Series 1000, Section C, Subsection iv↩