What Is California Penal Code § 290?

California Penal Code § 290 lays out specific guidelines and legal requirements for those forced to register as sex offenders, such as when, where, and how long someone must register. Further, the law makes it illegal not to carry out your duty to register with the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

How Long Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

California uses a three-tier system when categorizing different levels of sex crimes. The tier your offense falls in ultimately determines the length of your registration and depends on the severity of your offense. You might be in one of the following tiers:

  • Tier One – Misdemeanor crimes like indecent exposure result in a 10-year sex offender registration. This tier also includes some non-violent felonies.
  • Tier Two – Mid-level sex crimes like lewd acts with a minor result in at least 20 years of sex offender registration.
  • Tier Three – Repeat sex offenders and those convicted of severe crimes like sex trafficking children must register for life.

What Are the Requirements for Sex Offender Registration?

Registering as a sex offender means you must abide by the many requirements that come with it. Failure to do so could lead to further criminal punishment. However, knowing what’s expected could help keep you out of legal trouble.

Below are some of the requirements for sex offender registrants:

  • You must register with the campus police if you’re a college student
  • The law requires you to report within five days of moving if you choose to change your residence
  • You must renew your registration every year within five days of your birthday
  • Upon your release from jail, you must register within the next five days

What Happens When You Fail to Register?

Failure to register charges could result from a simple mistake but severely impact your life.

You could have registered with the local police but failed to register with your college campus. You might not have reported your recent move — or unforeseen circumstances prevented you from registering in the first place. No matter the case, you could face severe consequences if you fail to register as a sex offender.

Your failure to register penalties match those of your original sex crime. For example, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime, failing to register results in a misdemeanor.

Likewise, you might face felony charges if your original sex offense was a felony.

The penalties you face for a misdemeanor or felony charge include:

  • Misdemeanor – Up to a year in jail; fines as high as $1,000
  • Felony – 16 months, two years, or three years in jail; up to $10,000 in fines

How to Beat a Failure to Register Charge

Your failure to register charge could be contested. The goal is to challenge the elements of the crime. Did you willfully fail to register? Did law enforcement make a mistake? Were you even required to register in the first place? Depending on the facts of your case, these questions could be the basis of your attorney’s arguments.

You Weren’t Aware of Your Duty to Register

The judge must clearly state whether you’re required to register as a sex offender. Without an official declaration from the court, you might not know of your duty to register, leading to a failure to register charge.

Claiming that you weren’t required to register as a sex offender in the first place is the most desirable defense, and your attorney must show you weren’t given proper notification.

You Didn’t Willfully Fail to Register

You probably had every intention to register as a sex offender after your release from jail. However, life happens. After your release, you could have suffered a severe injury or illness, requiring you to be confined to a hospital bed.

If you were charged with failing to register during this time, your attorney could argue that your condition prevented you from registering.

Law Enforcement Lost Your Information

You might have done your due diligence and registered as a sex offender with the proper local authorities.

However, whatever happens to your information from that point forward is on them. That means that if they misplace or lose your registration information, you can’t be held accountable for their mistake.

Therefore, your failure to register charges won’t stick if your attorney could prove they, in fact, received your information but then lost it.

Can You Expunge a Failure to Register Conviction?

If you’ve been convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, you could be eligible for expunction under California Penal Code § 1203.4. You may qualify to expunge your record if you satisfied your probation requirements, are not currently charged with a crime, and are not actively serving a sentence.

Are You Charged with Failing to Register as a Sex Offender?

After completing your sentence, the last thing you want is to deal with another offense. You might have made a simple mistake, or extenuating circumstances led to your charges.

Whatever the case, your charges won’t go away unless you recruit a lawyer for failure to register as a sex offender charges.

Attorney Seth Morris has helped people avoid the grasp of the legal system repeatedly, keeping them out of harm’s way and allowing them to move on with their lives. Call Morris Law today at 510-330-0814 for a free consultation.