If you are found guilty of any sex crime in California, you'll probably have to register as a sexual offender for a lifetime as long as you continue to reside here. You're probably also aware that you must do this every year or whenever you change your address. Failure to register is an offense under California statutes. However, you could also be subject to federal criminal penalties when you fail to register. Get in touch with us at Sex Crimes Attorney if you are facing charges of failure to register for legal help.

Failure to Register

In 2006, legislators in the country enacted the Adam Walsh Act. This included a detailed system of sexual offender registration (SORNA), which put in place a more restrictive framework to build a national sexual offender registration system while also avoiding potential flaws.

If you're legally obligated to register yourself as a sexual offender, it's only reasonable to want to slip under the radar. However, violating the law can result in penalties and jail time. If you want to avoid making a mistake that could set you back, you must familiarize yourself with any relevant laws.

Even something as seemingly insignificant as forgetting to update your contact information or address with the proper authorities or register with your county authorities can lead to serious consequences, just like:

  • Failing to disclose all online usernames and profiles.
  • Failing to register with county authorities where you plan to spend five or maybe more days on a vacation.
  • Failing to pay your renewal or registration fees.

Each person found guilty of a sex crime in any state should register themselves as a sexual offender in that jurisdiction permanently or for the time they plan on remaining a resident of that state. The registration details should be kept current at all times, both under the guidelines established during sentencing and as new details become available.

Federal laws make it illegal to intentionally fail to register, or bring up to date your registration whenever you visit another jurisdiction, a foreign nation, or leave or enter Indian reservations.

Failure to Register Under Federal Law

Intentionally failing to update or register your registration as needed and committing any acts mentioned below is a federal offense under Title 18 § 2250 of the USC.

  • Go to another country.
  • Travel out of state.
  • Entering, leaving, or living in an Indian reserve.

Not registering as a sexual offender is a federal crime punishable by a maximum of thirty years in prison. While interstate movement is usually the catalyst for federal charges, it is not sufficient for a conviction under this statute. Additionally, you could be prosecuted with a federal crime if you intentionally didn't register as mandated under the SORNA Act, and you've had a past conviction for a sexual offense that qualifies as a sex crime under any of the following categories:

  • Federal Law.
  • The Uniform Code of Military Justice.
  • Tribal Law.
  • The District of Columbia laws.
  • US possession or territory law.

What is SORNA/the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act?

The Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) is a program that helps ensure the public's safety by registering and notifying authorities about sex offenders whenever they are let back into society.

Critical information about convicted sex offenders is kept in the SORNA registry, which is accessible to both local and federal agencies as well as the general public. The registry contains details about the sex offender, such as:

  • Name.
  • Current location.
  • Past offenses.

While public notification varies from state to state, it always entails signing up on sex offender websites. However, to operate legally, every jurisdiction must adhere to the federal requirements established by SORNA. The laws governing registration vary from state to state as well.

SORNA classifies offenders into tiers based on drugs rather than form or terminology. However, states are not required to classify sex offenders into specific categories. Provided sexual offenders meet the requirements for a specific tier as specified by the SORNA, this is achieved by:

  • Observing the registration time limit.
  • Guaranteeing that a tier's requirements are met.
  • Conforming to website disclosures.
  • Reaching the required number of mandatory personal appearances.

Misdemeanor charges, such as possessing child pornography, are classified as Tier I.

Most other charges fall under the Tier II category, including those involving sexual exploitation, felony sexual abuse, as well as other crimes involving minors like the creation and sale of child pornographic material.

Every sexual assault, irrespective of the victim's age, as well as sexual contact violations against children under the age of thirteen and the kidnapping (or attempted kidnapping) of children by a third party (non-parental), falls under Tier III.

According to the SORNA Act, registration is valid for the following period:

  • 15 years for Tier I sexual offenders.
  • 25 years for Tier II sexual offenders.
  • Life registration for Tier III sexual offenders.

If a person has served their sentence and been freed from custody, they are immediately required to re-register. When a defendant is found guilty of a non-incarcerable act, registration restarts. Upon sentencing, those found guilty of sex crimes are often briefed about their registration obligation, which typically pertains to anyone charged with:

  • Sexual assault.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Aggravated sexual assault.
  • Predatory sexual assault.
  • Aggravated sexual abuse.
  • Unlawful solicitation of a minor.
  • Exploiting a minor for sexual purposes.
  • Accommodating a facility for minor prostitution.
  • Soliciting or patronizing a minor prostitute.
  • Child pornography.
  • Aggravated pornography.

This list is by no means comprehensive; but serves as a guideline. The general rule is that when you're accused of a sexual offense and the putative victim is a minor, or if you're found guilty of a violent sexual offense, you will be required to register as a sexual offender.

Under SORNA, certain categories of sex offenders are eligible to have their registration lengths reduced. If a tier I sexual offender stays out of trouble for 10 years, they could have their registration lowered by 5 years.

The SORNA Act states that a person who is listed as a sexual offender related to juvenile delinquency should go 25 years without committing another crime to have their registration terminated.

A sexual offender needs to meet specific conditions to qualify for an expungement, such as:

  • Avoid a sex crime conviction, regardless of the consequences.
  • Avoid a conviction for any offense carrying a year or more of imprisonment.
  • Successful completion of supervised parole, release periods, and probation.

Complete any mandatory treatment program for sexual offenders that is provided by a jurisdiction that has been certified

The nature of the licensing requirements could be established by the various jurisdictions. There can be a program that has been approved by the board, and they could decide whether or not the offenders had successfully finished the approved programs.

What You Need to Know About SORNA Registration

Before being released from jail, imprisoned sexual offenders should be registered with the state. If the penalty does not include incarceration, the defendant has 3 business days following the date of conviction to register themselves.

The first registration should be completed in the state where the conviction was handed down. Subsequent ones should be completed in the states where the defendant resides, works, or goes to school.

Failing to Register for the SORNA Act

It is a federal offense to willfully avoid registering as a sexual offender or fail to keep the registration information current as required by the SORNA Act. If you're found guilty of neglecting to update or register your registration, you could face up to 10 years in prison as part of the statutory penalties.

A sexual predator who willfully disregards the requirement to sign up under SORNA or update their registration and perpetrates an aggravated federal offense faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Sexual offenders who have been convicted are required to register with their local police departments in every state where they live, go to school, or work. The registration must be updated or updated renewed regularly, often once a year, or sooner (within three working days) in the following circumstances:

  • A name change.
  • Address changes.
  • A change in jobs.
  • Changes in status as a student.

If this happens, the offender has a legal obligation to notify one state's authority and the new information needs to be shared with the others. Whenever a defendant changes their address, they have 3 days to register themselves at the local sex offenders registry. The penalty for willfully not updating the registration is 10 years of imprisonment.

The offender should make regular in-person appearances before the jurisdiction to update SORNA information. For every registry that a defendant is a part of, a photograph and verification of information will be obtained. It's necessary to conduct updates:

  • Every year for level I sexual offenders.
  • For tier II sexual offenders, twice a year (every six months).
  • For tier III sexual offenders, four times annually.

These court appearances need to take place in every jurisdiction where the offender resides, works, or attends school. All jurisdictions consider it a felony and can prosecute you on federal counts if you don't register if you've been found guilty of sex offenses.

  • Evidence that you had been obligated to sign up as a sexual offender is sufficient for a conviction.
  • Knew of, or should have known about, the requirement to register.
  • Not complying with registration laws or other associated requirements.

As is customary in criminal cases, the burden of proof is with the prosecution to establish each of the aforementioned factors beyond a shadow of a doubt; otherwise, the jury or judge will dismiss the case.

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) mandates that any sex offender who refuses to comply or register with SORNA provisions risks facing criminal consequences (such as a maximum prison sentence of more than a year). The same applies to Native American communities. However, the maximum sentence will be no more than one year behind bars.

Since sexual offenses are treated as federal crimes, perpetrators who intentionally fail to update their status or to register as sex offenders can face a federal criminal sentence of up to 10 years. If you do not register under the provisions of the SORNA and you've previously been convicted of one or more qualifying sex crimes, you could be convicted of a federal crime under:

  • Possession or territory legislation of the United States.
  • The Military Justice Code.
  • The District of Columbia's laws.
  • Federal law.
  • Tribal Law.

Not registering as a member of the United States armed forces deployed in one jurisdiction and having a prior sex crime record under military law would result in federal charges, irrespective of whether you had ever left the jurisdiction.

What is California's Legislation on Failing to Register?

Failing to register or update your status as a sex offender is considered illegal under California PC 290. This state's law outlines the sex offenses that would necessitate registration.

Some examples of sex crimes include the following:

  • Child pornography PC 311.
  • Aggravated sexual assault on a minor PC 269.
  • Soliciting a minor PC 288.4.
  • A sexual battery that includes illegal restraint PC 243.4.
  • Indecent exposure PC 314.

Convictions that are registrable necessitate that the accused register:

  1. Each year, within five business days of their birthday.
  2. Each time they relocate to a different place, within five days of the transfer.

Prosecutors should demonstrate the following to establish someone's failure to register as a sex offender:

  • The offender has a prior criminal conviction for a registrable crime.
  • The accused was aware of their obligation to register as sex offenders in that state.
  • The accused lived in the area or relevant jurisdiction.
  • The accused either intentionally neglected to update his/her registry within five days of the victim's birthday or intentionally failed to file a sex offender registration with the law enforcement or county sheriff's office within five days after moving to that state.

Penalties for Violating California PC 290

The punishment for a violation of California PC 290, failure to register, depends on the underlying offense that prompted the registration requirement.

If the following two conditions are met, you'll be convicted of a misdemeanor under California PC 290, Failure to Register:

  • First, a standard misdemeanor sex offense serves as the basis for the registration requirement.
  • Secondly, you should have no prior convictions for infringing the provisions of California PC 290 Failure to Register.

If you're found guilty of a misdemeanor under California PC 290, you could face a maximum jail term of one year, a hefty cash fine not exceeding $1,000, and a misdemeanor or summary probation. If you have previously been convicted under California PC 290 or if your underlying sex offense is considered a felony, you would be charged with a felony.

If you're found guilty of a felony for failing to register as a sex offender, the potential penalties include:

  • Felony probation.
  • A hefty fine not exceeding $10,000.
  • Serving anywhere between 16 months to 3 years behind bars.

Failure to register is categorized as a "continuing crime" under California PC 290. This implies that each time you don't fulfill your registration requirement, you will be liable to additional penalties. As a result, each time you neglect to update your records or register as a sex offender, you run the risk of getting another conviction and a corresponding prison, cash fine, and probation term.

While the baseline sex crime might have immigration effects, a conviction for failing to register would not. However, if the perpetrator is convicted of a felony for not registering, their rights to carry and possess firearms could be put at risk.

California's Three Strikes Law

A conviction for failing to register as a sex offender under California PC 290 can, in some circumstances, lead to a "strike." The following requirements should be met for this to be the case:

  • The underlying offense that prompted the registration requirement is a felony.
  • You've previously been found guilty of at least two counts of a serious or violent felony crime.

One of your prior convictions involved a serious offense. These crimes are described as being "extremely serious" under California PC 290, which includes a list of them.

Defenses For Failure to Register Charges

The following are some of the most common legal defenses to allegations of failure to register:

  1. The defendant failed to register due to extenuating situations beyond his or her control.
  2. The accused was legitimately unaware that they needed to register.
  3. The accused already registered.

A reputable criminal defense lawyer can assist defendants in raising one of these legal arguments and challenging an expensive conviction.

Extenuating Situation

In most cases, the prosecution needs to demonstrate that the accused purposefully refused to enroll in the sex offender registry. Proof that extenuating factors hindered the offender from registering could constitute a compelling defense. If the accused did register but not promptly, it could make the defense solid enough to beat the allegations.

Registered sex offenders are often required to re-register after certain occurrences as well as biannually or annually. Such occurrences often include the following:

  • Relocating.
  • Lost their previous permanent residence.
  • Have either enrolled or graduated from college.

Registrants are often required to register shortly after attending any of these sessions. Extenuating factors could constitute a powerful defense if they keep the registrant from meeting the registration obligations. However, these conditions need to be beyond the accused's control.

Not Being Aware

Not being aware is a viable defense in court since the failure to register should be intentional. However, the accused's unawareness of the individual's sex offender registration obligations should be justified, for example, if the accused:

  • Was never informed of their registration requirement.
  • Never got registration-related notifications.
  • Has a mental health issue that led to their lack of knowledge.

California offers an illustration of when unawareness is acceptable or not. The California courts' ruling determined that offenders should know precisely that they're required to register. This goes beyond simply informing them of their obligations. The accused should genuinely know what they're supposed to do.

Nonetheless, the use of such notifications could affect whether the accused knew about the matter. If the accused "simply forgets" to register, this defense would not succeed. However, the legal argument could be strengthened by forgetfulness brought on by a severe psychological condition.

These circumstances include:

  • A severe case of Alzheimer's.
  • Trauma-induced amnesia.

Law Enforcement Officer Misplaced the Registration

Individuals accused of failing to register could also present evidence indicating they did register. Registration paperwork can disappear as a result of transgressions in the filing process or other situations. Incorrect entry of the defendant's personal information, such as his or her phone number or social security number, by public safety personnel, could potentially lead to allegations that the defendant provided fraudulent information.

Demonstrating the fact that this occurred can serve as a powerful defense. However, engaging in a "hearsay" argument with law enforcement agencies rarely helps. Registrants can assist themselves by keeping a paper trail each time and step they register. If a defendant registers via mail, it could be a good idea to send the paperwork using certified mail. It is usually a good idea to save a copy of the document. A criminal defense attorney can be of assistance.

What are the Consequences of a Failed Sexual Offender Registration?

The consequences for failure to register as a sex offender vary by state. It can also vary depending on the specific sex offense that called for registration. But in the worst scenarios, convictions usually result in several years behind bars.

Registration responsibilities are suspended during this time. This implies that while the offender is incarcerated or detained, minimum registration periods are suspended. Failure to register usually results in the termination of parole, conditional release, or probation.

Find a Sex Crimes Lawyer Near Me

If you're facing charges of failure to register as a sex offender under Federal law, you can seek the services of the Sex Crimes Attorney right away. The sooner you acquire our services, the sooner we can begin investigating and compiling evidence on your behalf. Our professional lawyers can examine the specifics of the case and consult with you about the possible legal concerns, prospective penalties, and legal defenses. Call us now at 888-666-8480.