In 1994, in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, seven-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and strangled by a known pedophile who had moved across the street from Megan’s family without the community’s knowledge. In 1996, Megan’s Law was enacted as federal law in the United States, making the registration of sex offenders mandatory in all states and the information available to the public.
California’s Sex Offender Registration Law
You are required to register as a sex offender if you have ever been convicted of any crime listed in Penal Code § 290(c). California has a three-tier system for sex offender registration under California Penal Code 290 PC.
Tier One: Requires a sex offender to register for ten years. This is the lowest tier for those who have been convicted of the lowest form of sex crime such as indecent exposure or misdemeanor sexual battery.
Tier Two: Requires a sex offender to register for 20 years. This is considered a mid-tier level for those convicted of offenses such as non-forced sodomy with a minor under the age of 14 or lewdness with a minor under 14.
Tier Three: Requires lifetime sex offender registration for those who have been convicted of rape of a child, sex crimes against minors 10 years of age or younger, repeat sex offenders, sex trafficking of children and lewdness with a minor by fear or force.
Failing to register as a sex offender can result in a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on many factors such as the nature of the initial conviction, what tier an offender is on and other unique factors each individual case will have. For example, if you are a tier 1 offender and have failed to register you could face a misdemeanor. If you are a tier 3 offender, you could face up to 10,000 in fines and three years in state prison.
Of course, at the court’s discretion, after examining all of the elements of a case and the history of the offender, a harsher sentence could be imposed on a tier 1 offender and a lighter sentence for a tier 3 offender. Everything is determined by the courts on a case by case basis.
The law requires anyone convicted of a sex crime in California, to register with the police in the city where they live. They are required to register every year with 5 days of their birthday and every time they move to a new address no matter how many times they move. Transient or homeless sex offenders are required to register with authorities every 30 days under California Penal Code 290 PC as they do not have a trackable address.
If an offender moves out of state, they must notify the authorities in California as well as register with the local police or sheriff’s office of the new city they are residing in.
Beginning January 1, 2021, there will be a two-tier registration system for juveniles sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for sex offenses while they were wars of the court:
- Tier One: a juvenile whose offense was not serious nor a violent felony must register for 5 years
- Tier Two: a juvenile whose sex offense was serious or a violent felony must register for 10 years.
Do I Need A Lawyer For Failing To Register?
Being convicted as a sex offender tarnishes a person’s reputation, ostracizes them from the community and from society and affects the ability to obtain proper employment. It means not having contact with children and having to keep defined distances from schools and other places where children gather. Convicted sex offenders also face abandonment by friends and family leaving them further isolated.
Ignorance of the law is not a defense, however, it is possible that the court will recognize extenuating circumstances which can either reduce or dismiss new charges. Prosecutors may attempt to use previous failures to register or other strikes against an offender to get the court to impose harsher sentences.
The following are only some of the ways a Los Angeles lawyer can defend your failure to register charge:
- You did not willfully fail to register
- You were falsely accused of failure to register
- You attempted to register but your information was lost or not received
There are many ways an experienced lawyer can defend a case of failing to register as a sex offender. If you have been charged with failure to register, contact a Los Angeles lawyer who can represent you in court and fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed.