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Defenses for PC 290 Failing to Register as a Sex Offender

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Feb 23, 2024

For those individuals who must register as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290 PC and end up violating the registration requirements, getting arrested, and picking up a new case, they're facing serious consequences.  

Many people pled guilty to strikes, so now they're looking at a second-strike case where their penalties are doubled.  Trying to defend these cases is essential. Most of the time, when I represent people arrested for Penal Code Section 290 violations, it was simply a mistake or misunderstanding, yet the authorities don't care. Especially the police.  

They figure if you were convicted of such a serious crime, they would continue to dole out punishment.  They're not fair.  They're one-sided.  They investigated these cases in a one-sided manner. You'll need to get a criminal defense attorney to flip the script to show some of the problems related to the case.  

Real Case Example

Recently, I got one of these PC 290 failure to register as a sex offender cases dismissed because they did not adequately explain to my client what he was supposed to do once he was released from prison.  

He ended up getting released to ICE, the immigration. Then, it wasn't until a year later that he was ready to be put on parole. They had already issued a warrant for his arrest because he did not check in with parole while he was in ICE custody.  

Of course, from a defense standpoint, that's a problem.  How does he know that he is supposed to do that?  He figured he was in immigration custody, and if he abided by immigration rules, he was fine.  

That case ended up getting dismissed because they did not adequately explain what he was supposed to do once he was put in ICE custody versus being released to the state parole and having to abide by their terms and conditions.

The Element of Confusion

So, often, these violations relate to confusion, either by the authorities or the defendant, or sometimes even the court does not adequately explain precisely what they're supposed to do to the defendant.  

But realize that when you are released from custody or must check in with the police department, they will have you sign a bunch of documentation. Many times, that documentation explains what you're supposed to do.  

So, if you sign it, you promise to do it, and then you end up not doing it, then you put yourself in a position where you're going to be prosecuted, arrested, take a conviction, or potentially face jail or prison time.  

What is the PC 290 Defenses?

So, what you want to do, as far as defenses go for allegations of PC 290 failing to register as a sex offender, is to:

•    Determine whether you were adequately warned about exactly what you should do. 
•    Whether you did something that violates Section 290.  

That's another big defense that I see available to people.  I've had people who move from one apartment to another in the same complex, and the police, of course, come along and arrest them because they didn't give their new location.  

But I could argue that they're still in the same complex.  They're easily found.  All you must do is go into the management office, and they will tell you exactly where the person is.  

So, it did not violate the spirit of Penal Code Section 290.  The person wasn't attempting to do anything illegal, and in many of those cases, I can get dismissed or even reduced to something less than a prison-related offense.

So, we will have to look at the facts and circumstances of your cases.  I think one of the biggest things that determines how law enforcement is going to handle the case is whether they can mount an argument that you were trying to do something illegal and in a sexual manner, which is the whole point of Penal Code Section 290 – to guard the public against those individuals who are committing sex offenses.  

But, if you're not doing anything related to trying to break the law about committing another sex offense, then we're going to have a good argument that you didn't violate the spirit of Penal Code Section 290. 

Therefore, you should not be held accountable the same as if you had committed a crime or were about to commit a crime. Contact us for a free case review. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, California.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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