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PC 290 - IE Criminal Defense

I. California Penal Code 290: Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

Legal Definition: If you are convicted of specified sex offenses, then you are required to register as a Sex Offender with Local Law Enforcement every year on your birthday for a specified period of time. Failing to register, as ordered by law, is a new law violation. It can also be a violation of probation if you are still on probation for the offense that leads to your registration.

There are several charges that lead to mandatory sex registration:

“…rape, or any act punishable under Section 286, 288, 288a, or 289, Section 207 or 209 committed with intent to violate Section 261, 286, 288, 288a, or 289, Section 220, except assault to commit mayhem, Section 243.4, paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), or (6), or subdivision (a) of Section 261, paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 262 involving the use of force or violence for which the person is sentenced to the state prison, Section 264.1, 266, or 266c, subdivion (b) of Section 266h, subdivision (b) of Section 266i, Section 266j, 267, 269, 285, 286, 288, 288a, 288.3, 288.4, 288.5, 288.7, 289, or 311.1, subdivision (b), (c), or (d) of Section 311.2, Section 311.3, 311.4, 311.10, 311.11, or 647.6, former Section 647a, subdivision (c) of Section 653f, subdision 1 or 2 of Section 314, any offense involving lewd or lascivious conduct under Section 272, or any felony violation of Section 288.2; any statutory predecessor that includes all elements of one of the above-mentioned offenses; or any person who since that date has been or is hereafter convicted of the attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above-mentioned offenses.”

To show you failed to register as a Sex Offender under PC 290(B) or PC 290.018, the prosecution must prove:

  • You were previously convicted of a qualifying sex crime (listed above);
  • You resided in a city in California;
  • You knew that you had a duty under PC 290 to register as a sex offender within five working days of moving or on your birthday


  • You willfully failed to register as a sex offender with the police or local law enforcement.

II. What does this mean?

If the crime you were convicted of was a felony sex crime, then any failure to register is also a felony, likewise, if your underlying criminal offense causing you to register as a sex offender is a misdemeanor, then any failure to register is also a misdemeanor offense.

In order to register, you must appear in person to register with the local police department (or the Sheriff’s Department) of the city in which you live. Registration must be completed within five working days after your release from custody or from probation. You also have five working days to complete sex offender registration if you move. Thus, if you are convicted, you would register with your local enforcement, then if you move, you have to register again at your new police station upon your move.

If you are currently homeless, you must still register as a sex offender within five working days of release from custody. Rather than including your address when registering, you instead have to register as a transient; which means you are homeless. You must then continue to register as a transient/homeless sex offender every 30 days until you find a more permanent residence.

All people who have to register must update their registration every year, within five working days of their birthday. If you are deemed to be a sexually violent predator, you must update their registration no less than every 90 days.

When you register, it typically includes photographing and fingerprinting, and taking your name, address and telephone number,  employer address, and license plate number of any vehicle registered.

III. Penalties

If you are convicted of a previous felony sex case, and you fail to register, you could be sentenced to State Prison for upwards of 16 months, two or three years. If your underlying sex case was a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to County Jail for up to one year. You would be required to serve 50% of that time.

In addition, most underlying sex cases that are felonies are usually strike offenses. That means, that if you fail to register on a previous felony sex case, then you could pick up a new felony case, which will double your exposure because of your strike. Thus, you could be sentenced to six years in state prison and must serve 80% of that time in custody.

Other Similar offenses under this section:

  • Failure to register as a sex offender PC 290.018
  • Failure to register as a sexually violent predator (SVP) PC 290.001
  • Failure to register as a sex offender for an out-of-state resident working or attending school in California PC 290.002
  • Failure to register as a mentally disordered sex offender PC 290.004
  • Failure to register as a sex offender for employees and students of colleges with campus police PC 290.009 & PC 290.01
  • Failure to register as a sex offender with multiple addresses PC 290.010
  • Failure to register sex offender as a transient PC 290.011
  • Failure to register as a sex offender on annual update PC 290.012
  • Failure to register as a sex offender after a change of address PC 290.013
  • Failure to register as a sex offender under a new name after a legal name change PC 290.014

IV. Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of your Rights
  4. False Accusations
  5. Coerced Confessions

Claiming you did not have knowledge of your requirement to register as a Sex Offender is generally an impossible defense. The reason is that you are usually required to sign a Plea Form that will spell out your requirement. Your Judge will normally say it on the record as well, and you very likely had an attorney explain this to you as well. Thus, a better defense could be you were disabled and unable to register on the dates you were required to. Or you did, and due to some clerical error, it did not process.

V. Call Today

These cases become problematic if you have a previous Strike offense for a felony sex case. That is because you go from a case where you should likely earn probation, if it is your first offense, to very likely being stuck in State Prison. Technical errors and omissions are good defenses to these charges, and it is necessary to take these charges seriously. Failing to Register will also have a great impact on whether or not you will be able to ever stop having to register since you generally need to be clean 7-10 years before petitioning the court. Our PC 290 Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases and personally specializes in all Sex Crimes including PC 290. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.

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