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Failure to Register

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 at 80-85% of the time. In order to avoid this type of a 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 were going to commit a sex crime and but for them grabbing you for the failure to register, you would have committed a more serious crime, then they will be seeking the longest possible prison sentence they can convince the judge to give.

If, on the other hand, we can convince the prosecutor and judge that you just simply made a mistake or where unaware of your responsibility in some way, then 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 what your underlying offense was and how long ago that it occurred. If the offense 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 received a harsh punishment. The aim of the registration requirement is to protect society and the community in general and to make sure children or other potential sex victims are safe in specific


The way to avoid prison for a failure to register as a sex offender case centers around the reason that you failed to register 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.

Obviously the reason that  PC 290 was created is to protect the public from the those individuals who have committed a sex offenses and might commit one in the future.  Therefore, if the judge and prosecutors feel that the charged person was up to no good, and that is the reason that they failed to register, then 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 strong position to keep that person out of jail and have the judge and the prosecutor give them a break.

In my opinion, these type of cases can not be handled by just any attorney, you are going to need someone who has handled these type of cases before and had success.  It is crucial that your attorney knows the type 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.  That is why 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.


I can not tell you how many times I have defended someone for a failure to register case and 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 get you, in many of the circumstances that I see.  In order to combat this fact, 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.

Many times a person is given bad information by the police in charge of the registration process and they rely on that information in how they handle their registration requirements, only to learn by 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 there is nothing they can do about it, accept have their act together and know what they are talking about.

If you have been convicted with a sex crime and have failed to register as a sex offender as required by California Penal Code Section 290, then you may face additional charges of “Failure to Register”.

If 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 what the underlying sex crime charge was. 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 can trigger mandatory minimums.

Often prosecutors try to 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.

If you are facing such charges, our sex crime defense attorneys can and will help you. There are defenses we can assert 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.


The government can convict a suspect for failure to register per Penal Code section 290(b) when…

  1. The suspect was previously convicted of a registerable sex crime (sexual assault, sexual battery etc…);
  2. The suspect resided in CA;
  3. The suspect actually knew that they had a responsibility to register as a sex offender OR
  4. They willfully failed to either update their registration, or register within 5 working days after a change of residence.

The government is required to show that the suspect had the intention of failing to register, so if it can be proved that the suspect did not actually know of his duty to register, the suspect may have a defense. If the suspect has been found as a violent offender, stronger requirements must be met to keep their registration valid.

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