Sex offender registration in California is being required in more and more cases. Whether convicted of a sex offense in California or another state in the United States, most convictions, even minor misdemeanors, will require that one registers as a sex offender under California Penal Code section 290. When charged with a sex offense in California whether it be a serious rape case or a misdemeanor charged under California Penal Code section 243.4(e)1, it is important to immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to explore your defenses and determine if you can get the case dismissed or avoid the often tedious condition of having to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life under California Penal Code section 290.
Often times the most difficult hurdle in defending a felony or misdemeanor sexual assault case is protecting yourself from the Penal Code section 290 requirement of lifetime registration as a sex offender. Regardless of jail or prison time, defendants learn quickly that having to register as a sex offender is a problem that may negatively affect your life forever.
Defending a Charge of Failing to Register under California Penal Code section 290
In order to present sufficient evidence of the elements of a violation of Penal Code section 290, a prosecutor must show:
1. The defendant was previously convicted of [a registerable offense;
2. The Defendant resided in California; [emphasis added.]
3. The Defendant actually knew [he] had a duty to register as a sex offender under Penal Code section 290 ….;
4. The Defendant willfully failed to register as a sex offender with the [police or sheriff] within five working days of (coming into/[or] changing (his/her) residence within) that (city/county/campus.)” (See Judical Council of California, Criminal Jury Instructions, Spring 2008 edition, Volume 1, Instruction 1170.)
In a recent Riverside case I successfully resolved, a Defendant failed to register as a sex offender after leaving California for several years and then coming back to Riverside County. Evidence showed that while out of California, the Defendant did not register as a sex offender but when he returned to live in California, he registered with his local law enforcement agency within 5 days of moving back to Riverside County. The prosecution agreed to dismiss felony charges stemming from the years the client did not live in California based on the elements needed to prove a violation under Penal Code section 290 including the fact there was insufficient evidence to show that the defendant “willfully” tried to violate the registration requirement.
If a person is charged with violating Penal Code section 290’s registration requirement, it is important to immediately consult with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer to determine if the person has a viable defense to charges which seem impossible to defend but often times have defenses that may apply to your case.
Obtain Relief from Registering as A Sex Offender in California
In many cases where a defendant is required to register as a sex offender for a certain period of time including a lifetime registration requirement, they may seek relief from the registration requirement by filing the appropriate motion with a California Superior Court.
Persons who are convicted of various sex offenses obtain relief from the duty to register upon obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation. (See California Penal Code §§ 290.5 and 290.4, subd. (a)(1). All others must obtain a governor’s pardon to obtain relief from the duty to register as a sex offender. An individual is eligible to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation seven to ten years (depending on the registrable sex offense) after release from custody or on parole or probation, whichever is sooner. Certain sex offenders are not eligible to obtain a certificate of rehabilitation. (See California Penal Code §§ 4852.01 & 4852.03.).
Benefits of Retaining a Sex Offender Criminal Defense Attorney Familiar With CA Law:
In order to determine if you are eligible to obtain relief from the registration requirement under Penal Code section 290, it is imperative that a person seeks counsel with a criminal defense attorney who has experience preparing and filing certificates of rehabilitation and/’or request for pardon’s with the California Governor’s office. Although it may seem hopeless to obtain such relief, in many cases it is possible and you should consult with a lawyer to examine your options.