Failure to Register as a Sex Offender (PC 290 (b)):
If you are required to register under California’s sex offender registration law, and you fail to do so, you may be convicted under CAPC 290, “Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.”
California’s Sex Offender Registration Act (Also known as Megan’s Law), requires anyone who lives in the State of California, post conviction of a California sex crime, to register with the police of the city of residence. In addition, the registration must be renewed every year, within 5 working days of the person’s birthday, and report and renew every time he/she moves to a new address. Knowingly and willfully failing to meet this requirement could land you a PC 290 (b) conviction.
Penalties (PC 290 (b)):
The penalties for PC 290 (b) depend on the underlying offense that required you to register in the first place. If you prior sex offense was a felony or you have one or more prior convictions for this offense, then PC 290 (b) will also be charged as a felony and vice versa.
The potential penalties for misdemeanor failure to register include: Summary probation, up to one year in county jail, and/or fines up to $1,000.
The potential penalties for felony failure to register include: Formal probation, 16 months to 3 years in the California State Prison, and/or fines up to $10,000. In some cases, felony failure to register can count as a third strike under California’s Three Strikes Law, which can get you 25 years to life in state prison.
Legal Defenses (PC 290 (b)):
There are two common legal defenses that could be used for your favor in arguing a PC 290 (b) charge. First, you could argue that you did not know of your obligation to register, so you did not willfully fail to register. Second, you could argue that you attempted to register, but that your information was lost or not received. There have been many cases where a convicted sex offender follows through on his/her registration obligations- but- the reporting police officer manages to “lose” the relevant paperwork and then reports him/her to the District Attorney for failure to register.