Los Angeles Sex Crime Attorney
Sex Offender Registration Consequences
In California, sex offense penalties can be life-changing; in addition to incarceration and other serious consequences, you may even have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life! Sex offender registration is one of the harshest penalties facing anyone convicted of a sex crime in California. If you have been accused of a sex crime or are currently being investigated, speak to an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn about your rights and the possible defenses available in your case. Remember, anything you say to law enforcement will likely be held against you, so do not speak to them without an attorney from Stephen G. Rodriguez and Partners present. Also, do not contact the alleged victim or family members as it may appear that you are trying to influence them, which can make your situation worse. Contacting us sooner rather than later can make a critical difference in your case.
Sex Offender Registration Law
California Penal Code Section 290, The Sex Offender Registration Act, requires lifelong registration of individuals convicted of certain sex crimes, including but not limited to:
- Sexual Battery (Penal Code 243.4)
- Rape (Penal Code 261)
- Abduction of a Minor for Prostitution (Penal Code 267)
- Sex or Sexual Act with a Child under Age 14 (penal Code 288)
- Incest (Penal Code 285)
- Sodomy with a Minor (Penal Code 286)
- Possession of Child Pornography or Representations of Simulated Sex Acts with a Minor (Penal Code 314.1)
- Indecent Exposure (Penal Code 314.1).
Convicted sex offenders who live in or are employed in California must continuously register with law enforcement officials according to California Penal Code Section 290(b). They must additionally register with university or college law enforcement while they are living on campus or in any affiliated facility, working or attending classes. In addition, sex offenders must notify the authorities within 5 business days of the date that they move, change address or temporarily reside at a different location. Updated registration is also required within 5 business days of every birthday. Some offenders, e.g., sexually violent predators, have to update their registration more often. Sex offender information is forwarded to the California Department of Justice (DOJ), which maintains the California registered Sex Offender Database and updates the Sex Offender Locator website.
According to Penal Code Section 17, a judge cannot relieve a defendant of the duty to register as a sex offender if the defendant is charged with a qualifying offense or if a court or jury finds the defendant guilty of committing a qualifying offense. Also, defendants are not allowed to make a deal that eliminates sex offender registration if they plead guilty to a crime that requires it. The only ways to avoid sex registration are to have your charge dismissed, plead down to a charge that doesn't carry with it sex offender registration or be found not guilty of the crime.
Megan's Law - Public Disclosure
Although California has mandated sex offender registration since 1947, until recently the data has not been readily available. In 1996, Megan's Law was enacted, which mandates public access to information about where sex offenders live. More recently, the Megan's Law Sex Offender Locator Website was launched, www.meganslaw.ca.gov, which allows the public to access sex offender information. Although registration in mandatory, approximately 25% of registered sex offenders, due to their particular type of sex crime, are excluded from this public disclosure.
Penalties for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in California
Penal Code Section 290.018 outlines the penalties for failing to register:
- A potential sentence of one year in county jail if the underlying conviction was for a misdemeanor;
- A state prison sentence of 16 months -3 years if the underlying conviction was a felony. If the original crime was a "Strike" under The Three Strikes Law, the state prison term can be doubled.
Furthermore, each time that a person who must register as a sex offender violates reporting duties under The Sex Offender Registration Act, it is treated as a continuing violation and could ultimately result in substantial time in state prison. Failure to register, when the underlying crime is a felony, counts as a Strike and if a defendant has a prior Strike, the potential sentence for that failure is 32 months-6 years in state prison. If a defendant has two Strikes already and fails to register the person is looking at getting the third Strike, which means the penalty is 25 years-life.
Unfortunately, individuals are often charged with failing to register when actual registration was not required or when registration was completed as required. Adding insult to injury, the charge is frequently filed against the individual without the person's knowledge. An experienced criminal defense lawyer at our firm will know how to work with these situations without exposing the defendant to any unnecessary jail or state prison time.
Sex Crime Lawyer in Los Angeles
Sex offender registration creates a social stigma that can make it very difficult to find a job, buy a home and maintain personal relationships. With such high stakes, it makes sense to employ a legal team in your case that is experienced in defending against sex crimes and sex offender registration charges. The attorneys should also have a record of success with California criminal appeals and writs, as a sex offense conviction can also be appealed. With 70 plus years of combined legal experience in our firm, we are very skilled lawyers who provide aggressive defense representation of sex crimes of all levels. We are available to meet with you and your family to privately and confidentially discuss the specific facts of your case and welcome you to call our office to schedule your no cost consultation with us.
For representation from a law firm that will fight for you, contact a Los Angeles sex crime attorney
at your earliest opportunity.