Failure to Register as a Sex Offender – Penal Code 290
As indicated in my video above, most of the failure-to-register cases that I see involved the defendant facing a stiff prison sentence because their underlying offense involved serious conduct, and they have a strike on their record.
Hence, any future felony can cause their sentence to be doubled and be served in prison 80-85% of the time. To avoid this type of harsh consequence, your defense attorney will have to show that the reason that you failed to register was not for some reason that the registration requirement guards against.
If the authorities suspect that you would commit a sex crime and but for them grabbing you for the failure to register, you would have committed a more serious offense. They will be seeking the longest possible prison sentence they can convince the judge to give.
On the other hand, if we can convince the prosecutor and judge that you just made a mistake or were unaware of your responsibility somehow, we have a fighting chance to keep you out of prison and keep you in the community.
Other factors that will play into whether you receive a harsh sentence involve your underlying offense and how long ago it occurred. If the crime was not that serious and occurred many years ago, then the prosecutors are much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.
If, on the other hand, you are still on probation for the underlying offense and have violated your probation for failing to register, then you can expect to be dealt with accordingly. Other considerations include what the actual violation of your sex registration conviction was.
In other words, what did you fail to do? The more on point with the policy behind sex registration, your actions were, the more likely you are to receive a harsh punishment. The registration requirement aims to protect society and the community in general and to make sure children or other potential sex victims are safe in specific.
How to Avoid Prison for Failing to Register?
The way to avoid prison for a failure to register as a sex offender case centers around the reason that you failed to write in the first place and whether your attorney can show the prosecutor that it was an innocent mistake or that you were not doing anything that they need to be worried about.
PC 290 was created to protect the public from those individuals who have committed sex offenses and might save one in the future. Therefore, if the judge and prosecutors feel that the charged person was up to no good, and that is why they failed to register, they are typically going to try and send that person to prison.
If, on the other hand, we can show the prosecutor that the client made an honest mistake or has a good reason for failing to register as a sex offender, then we are in a solid position to keep that person out of jail and have the judge and the prosecutor give them a break.
In my opinion, these types of cases can not be handled by just any attorney; you will need someone who has dealt with these types of patients before and had success. Your attorney must know the kind of arguments to make that the prosecutors are responsive to and who bring about a successful result,
In other words, the sex crime defense attorney you choose must have been down this path before and figured out a successful resolution for their client. The first thing I do with my clients is sit down face to face and map out a plan that fits the perimeters of their particular situation.
What Are the Defenses for Failing to Register?
I can not tell you how often I have defended someone for a failure to register a case, reviewed the police report, and said to myself, “why did they file this case against my client?” Unfortunately, in this area of law, the police are vicious, and they do not care who you are or why you pled to a sex crime.
They view you as a danger and a target to get because you have a conviction for a sex crime, and they will stop at nothing to contact you in many of the circumstances that I see. To combat this, I have to take the police to task on the witness stand and show the judge and the prosecutor just how ridiculous some of their procedures are and how sloppy they are at enforcing the law.
Often, a person is given the wrong information by the police in charge of the registration process. They rely on that information in handling their registration requirements, only to learn from other police officers that they are in violation.
This is where your only defense is a savvy, sophisticated criminal defense attorney. Once some of these officers get on the witness stand, they fall apart like a house of cards in a wind storm. They are not used to anyone challenging their authority. They do not like it, but they can do nothing about it, accept, have their act together, and know what they are talking about.
If you have been convicted of a sex crime and have failed to register as a sex offender as required by California Penal Code Section 290, you may face additional “Failure to Register” charges.
If you are facing failure to register charges, our lawyers in L.A. can still help. Failure to Register can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the underlying sex crime charge. Whether you will go to prison will depend on different factors.
A federal conviction of failure to register can result in years in federal prison and trigger mandatory minimums.
Often, prosecutors use prior strikes to impose longer sentences and no probation. Our sex crime defense lawyers prepare and assert every defense we can to come against such consequences.
Our sex crime defense attorneys can and will help you if you face such charges. We can assert defenses in your favor, and we will place every effort to get these charges against you dismissed.
Contact our Los Angeles sex crime lawyers for a free face-to-face consultation so we can discuss your case and all your available options.
What Factors Must the Government Prove?
The government can convict a suspect for failure to register per Penal Code section 290(b) when…
- The suspect was previously convicted of a registerable sex crime (sexual assault, sexual battery, etc...…);
- The suspect resided in CA;
- The suspect knew that they had a responsibility to register as a sex offender OR
- They willfully failed to update their registration or register within five working days after a change of residence.
The government must show that the suspect intended to fail to register, so if it can be proved that the suspect did not know of his duty to write, the suspect may have a defense. If the suspect has been found as a violent offender, more robust requirements must be met to keep their registration valid.