Legal Dictionary

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Failure to Register

In California, defendants who have been convicted of certain sex offenses are required to register as sex offenders under Penal Code Section 290 (known as the Sex Offender Registration Act) with their local law enforcement agency (Police Department or Sheriff's Department) as long as they live, work, or attend school in California. The registration requirement calls for registration within 5 working days of their birthday and within 5 working days of changing their address. Sex offender registration is usually a lifelong obligation.

Failure to register can result in a separate criminal case being filed against the defendant. The punishment for failing to register is up to one year in county jail if the underlying sex offense is a misdemeanor. If the underlying sex offense is a felony then the punishment is 16 months to 3 years in state prison. However, because most felony sex crimes are “Strikes” (“serious” or “violent felonies”), the prison term is doubled, for a maximum of 6 years in state prison. The following is a list of some of the most commonly committed sex crimes that require sex registration:

  • Sexual Battery — Penal Code 243.4
  • Rape — Penal Code 261
  • Incest — Penal Code 285
  • Child Sexual Abuse - Penal Code 288
  • Child Pornography — Penal Code 311
  • Indecent Exposure — Penal Code 314.1
  • Annoy or Molest Child under 18 — Penal Code 647.6

There is a registration requirement for defendants (controlled substance offender) convicted of certain drug offenses. The defendant must register within 30 days of being released from prison or moving to a new domicile. The defendant must register with the chief of police of the city or the sheriff of the county of an incorporated area. A failure to register is punishable as a misdemeanor with a maximum exposure of one year in the county jail. For further information refer to California Penal Code Section 11590.