Defense for Penal Code 290: “Failure to Register as a Sex Offender”In California, someone convicted of a sex crime is required to register as a sex offender within in the state. If one is required to register under the “California’s sex offender registration law,” and does not, he or she could be convicted of the crime of “failure to register as a sex offender,” in accordance with California Penal Code 290.

Specifically, California’s “Megan’s Law,” also known as the “California sex offender registration law,” states anyone in the state convicted of a sex crime must register with the police of the city or county where he or she lives in California.

Understanding the Crime of “Failure to Register as a Sex Offender”
To be convicted, under California’s Penal Code 290, a person must be found guilty of all the elements of the crime of “failure to register as a sex offender.” A prosecuting attorney will work in court to prove all the elements are met so the defendant is convicted of the crime. According to California Penal Code 290, a person is in violation of the code when he or she meets the following requirements:

  1. He or she previously was convicted of a sex crime in California and was required to register as a sex offender;
  2. He or she resides in California;
  3. He or she understood it was their duty to register as a sex offender in the state; and
  4. He or she failed to register “willfully” or to update the registration, as required by law.

Those declared sex offenders in the State of California are responsible, under Penal Code 290, to provide their identities, addresses, and contact information with their local police departments. Additionally, California Penal Code 290 requires the convicted sex offenders in the state to update their information with law enforcement agencies every five years and each time they change their addresses.

Penalties For a Violation of Penal Code 290
If one is found guilty of the “failure to register as a sex offender,” under California Penal Code 290, he or she is punishable based on if the sex crime conviction prior was a felony or misdemeanor. In accordance with Penal Code 290, someone charged and convicted of a misdemeanor for “failure to register as a sex offender” typically could spend up to a year in jail and face a fine up to $1,000. Someone charged and convicted of a felony for being found in violation of Penal Code 290, could spend up to three years in a state prison in California and be required to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

Defending a “Failure to Register as a Sex Offender” Charge
So could a California criminal defense lawyer successfully defend a charge for violating Penal Code 290? The good news is yes, there are a number of defenses a skilled defense attorney could raise on behalf of someone charged with “failure to register as a sex offender” in California. It is key to work with a knowledgeable attorney who can draw up the most appropriate legal defense. Perhaps, the defendant did not fail to register “willfully,” and did not understand the they were responsible to do so. Maybe, the defendant did try to register but the police department lost the information or errored on its part. Even still, a defendant may have been falsely accused of violating Penal Code 290, and a skilled defense lawyer can prove this before a judge so his or client does not face any additional punishment or embarrassment.