Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
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What are the legal defenses and penalties for failure to register as a sex offender

Convicted sex offenders in the State of California are required to register under PC 290 with local authorities every year and within five working days of their birthday. This also applies each time a registrant moves their residence within the jurisdiction of the state. Failure to register may result in a misdemeanor criminal charge, a violation of parole, or a felony if the underlying sex crime was a felony.

Legal Defenses

As with any violation of the law, failure to register as a sex offender is no different when it comes to a variety of legal defenses. The burden of proof falls on the courts to show that the registrant willfully neglected or failed to register. In other words, the registrant acted, with intent, to avoid registering as required by PC 290. Another legal defense may extend to the responsibility of the jurisdictional authority to notify the registrant with a reminder or the authority lost the registration resulting in the defendant not realizing they had to register. Many violations of the registry occur when a registrant moves from one state to another and fails to comply with the incoming state’s requirements. In those cases, an attorney may be able to get the registrant in compliance by negotiating with the prosecutor to drop the charge; however, it may depend on the initial report.

Possible Penalties

Despite the myriad of legal defenses for failure to register, there are potential penalties if a legal defense fails. What is most important to understand is that the level of penalties is generally based upon the original sex offense and whether it was a misdemeanor or felony. Under the laws of California, if an offender was convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense, then failing to register will possibly result in a misdemeanor as well. 

Possible penalties under a misdemeanor conviction may include:

  • Imprisonment in the county jail for a period of up to one year
  • Maximum fine of $1000.00

If convicted of a felony sex crime or any other prior violations of PC 290, the following penalties may apply:

  • Imprisonment in a state prison for a period of up to three years
  • Maximum fine of $10,000.00

Finally, there are many that ask whether there are immigration implications for the violation of the State’s registry? In general, there are no immediate implications; however, under the United States immigration law, there are a number of criminal offenses that serve as qualifiers for deportation proceedings.

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

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