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Defenses to Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Jul 25, 2020

Best Defenses to California Penal Code Section 290 – Failing to Register as Sex Offender. This obviously has to do with sex crime cases where people are ordered by a court to register as a sex offenders, and they end up failing to do so in some way, and then the police arrest them.

The prosecutors charge them with a Penal Code Section 290 violation, which has to do with sex registration in Los Angeles and across California.  They take this very seriously.

What I don't like about it is that I feel like a lot of times, the police try and trump-up charges against people who have to register as sex offenders because they want them just to continue to get into further and further trouble, and a lot of times people aren't doing anything wrong.

They're not trying to beat the system.  They're not trying to commit more sex offenses yet. Perhaps you didn't know precisely what are all the requirements for registration.

When I get a case where someone is being charged with failure to register, I have to defend them.  So, it makes sense to think about whether or not you have a defense.

Case Dismissal vs. Negotiation with Prosecutor

Is it going to be a case where you can win the case, and I can convince the prosecutors to either dismiss it or not even file it, or is it a situation where I have to negotiate with them?  That's one thing we have to talk about.  But knowing what type of offense makes sense in this area is essential.

The first thing I would say about defenses for sex crime registration is that I see people failing to register within five days of their birthday and getting arrested.  Sometimes the police will wait until the next birthday to arrest the person.

It's probably just whether or not they're keeping track of stuff.  They're sloppy, lazy, whatever the case may be.  But, if the person hasn't committed any crimes and they're coming to register, sometimes people forget.  I've had a lot of clients that happen to me.

I forgot to Register on Birthday

So, we have to see what the surrounding circumstances are in that case and why you failed to register within five days of your birthday.  If you did forget, sometimes prosecutors might consider that and give you a break if they feel that you are not trying to do anything wrong.

You're not up to no good, especially if you come to register the next time, then obviously, the defense has a pretty good argument.  They just forgot before.  You don't want to ignore this because they don't take that type of stuff very lightly.

The defense in that situation would be that I didn't intend to violate Penal Code 290 PC.  I forgot that I was supposed to register.  That's a tough one because most people do know.

If you've been convicted of a sex crime, you know what your obligations are and what your responsibilities are.  A lot of times, you've registered before.  So, the courts and even juries will not accept that excuse.

This is especially true when you're a sex offender, and the reason behind they have you register so they can keep track of where you are, what you're doing, making sure that you're not committing any more crimes.

That's a tough defense, but maybe if you did forget. We can show it; then we can use that to mitigate the case to some other charge because a lot of times, people who are convicted of sex crimes are now being charged with failure to register, and now they're looking at a second strike case with a minimum month in prison.

So, we don't want to deal with that, so we can often get the prosecutor or judge to strike and give you something other than prison time.

Forgot to Notify Police You Moved

The next defense and the following subject area I see related to failing to register is people, when they move or become homeless or don't have a home for some time, fail to tell the police that.  That's one of the rules if you move. 

The point is, if you are living somewhere and that's where they think you're living, then you go somewhere else, then what's the point of registering if you're not even at the address you're at.  So, sometimes people get in trouble with that.

They get caught in a different location or found at another place with all of their stuff there, and now the police realize they're sex offenders, and now they're asking if you're registered over here, why is your stuff over here?

So, that's another area that we get into, but if you have a good reason/excuse for it that makes sense, then a lot of times, I've been able to defend curses under those grounds where the person simply is living at two locations.  Sometimes that happens.

I had another client who moved from inside a substantial 100-home complex.  He moved from one unit to another, so he figured he had the same address; why did he have to say he moved to a different team.

I didn't see that anywhere in the paperwork that he signed when he signed up to register as a sex offender, so we could get out of it in that way and provide a defense for him and get his case resolved.

You Became a Transient

So, other different angles can come up.  Another one is if you become transient — you don't have anywhere to live.  You have to tell them that.  I think the prosecutors are pretty reasonable when it comes to that because they feel bad the person doesn't have anywhere to live any longer, and if it's not clear that they were supposed to let the authorities know, then that might be a defense well.

The last thing I would say about failing to register and defenses, a lot of this stuff is common sense, and if it makes sense, you shouldn't be charged with a crime.

This is because there was some mistake, accident, or you just didn't do anything, and they're trying to trump up some charges; then we'll have an excellent chance to beat the prosecutors.

But if, on the other hand, you did not do what you were supposed to do, then you're probably going to have to shoulder some responsibility for that, and it's going to be up to me.

Having done this for 26 years and has handled hundreds of these cases, it's up to me to ensure that we get you the best resolution possible. Contact our Los Angeles sex crime defense attorneys for a free case evaluation.

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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