You are currently viewing Failure to register as a sex offender in California

The Code of Criminal Procedure 290 PC makes it an offense the failure to register as a sex offender in California. Within five business days after their birthday, they must complete this registration and notify of their change of address.

If you’ve been in trouble with the law for a sex offender charge, Lluis Law’s criminal lawyers can help. Call now and request a private consultation to discuss your case.

We have over 50 years of combined experience successfully litigating in California courts. We work on the premise that our clients are innocent until proven otherwise. 

The crime of failure to register as a sex offender in California in 2024

California law states that a sex offender is a convicted person if convicted of a sex crime:

Rape – PC 261. Having non-consensual sexual relations with another person through the use of force, intimidation or deceit. 

Sexual assault – PC 243.4. Touching another person’s private parts without their consent.  

Indecent Exposure – PC 314. Showing another person’s genitals to satisfy himself or to annoy him. 

Lewd acts with a minor – PC 288. All obscene acts against the physical integrity of a minor of 14 years.

Any person (…) while residing in California, or while attending school or working in California (…) must register with the police chief of the city in which they reside (…).

California Penal Code 290

If, after being prosecuted as a sex offender, you do not register every year or report a change of address, you commit a crime. 

Registration levels as a sex offender 

In California the crime of not registering as a sex offender is divided into three levels:  

Level 1: You must register for a minimum of 10 years.

Level 2: You must register for a minimum of 20 years.

Level 3: You have to register for the rest of your life.

Elements of the crime of not registering as a sex offender 

To be convicted of this crime, the prosecutor must prove that the accused: 

  • Since he was convicted of a sex crime in California, his registration was required.
  • He had his residence (permanent address) in California.
  • He knew you had to register as a sex offender. 
  • Failed to voluntarily register or update the registration.

Possible defenses for not registering 

The most common defenses for people accused of PC 290 (b) are as follows:

  • It was not an intentional act to stop registering. He was able to justifiably stop because he was traveling and was unable to return on time or became ill and was hospitalized.
  • The information was sent but the authorities lost the information from the registry. For which the necessary evidence related to compliance with this requirement would have to be exhibited. 
  • He didn’t know he had to register. Beyond all reasonable doubt, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant knew that he must register in a timely manner. The defendant may not have known because he did not understand that he should.

Penalties for violating PC 290 

convictions to register as a sex offender

A violation of the requirement to register as a sex offender in California carries prison terms and a fine. These penalties will depend on whether the person was prosecuted for a sexual offense punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony.

As a misdemeanor the penalty includes: 

  • Summary parole.
  • Up to one year in jail in a county prison and / or,
  • Fine of up to $ 1,000. 

As a serious crime, not registering as a sex offender is penalized with:    

  • Conditional freedom. 
  • Up to 16 months, two years or three years in prison in a state prison and / or,
  • Fine of up to $ 10,000. 

Where to register as a sex offender

After paying their sentence for a sex crime, people must register as sex offenders. 

They can do this at the Police Department of the jurisdiction where they currently reside. If they live on a college campus, they must register with the campus police.

The periodicity of the registration is annual, exactly within five days after his birthday. If they change their address they must immediately notify the police.

Evidence of notification to the offender

Some of the evidence that you were sufficiently notified in prison of having to register as a sex offender include:

  • Oral notification by the prosecutor in a public hearing that is verified through the judicial registry.
  • Upon release from prison, the Department of Corrections representative notified him in writing / orally of his obligation to register.
  • Upon being processed, he received a copy of the charges against him. The crimes listed in the indictment are those whose conviction requires the registration of criminals.

Immigration consequences for violation of Penal Code 290

A conviction for violating California Penal Code PC-290, by itself, has no negative consequences for immigrants.

The criminal convictions that generate immigration consequences such as deportation or inadmissibility are:  

Although the violation of PC 290 does not have immigration consequences, it does have a charge for a sexual offense that you have committed.

Removing a PC 290 sentence

With the help of an experienced criminal record clearance attorney, it is possible to remove a conviction for this crime. Penal Code 1203.4 allows almost “all sanctions and disabilities” to be removed after a conviction. 

Clearing criminal records helps people for work, social relations, and study purposes. Void convictions do not need to be disclosed to employers or others.

But the removal of a misdemeanor or felony proceeds only if the applicant:

You successfully completed the completed trial period (for felony or misdemeanor) and are not in the following situations:

  • Charged with a criminal offense,
  • You are on probation for a criminal offense, or
  • He is serving a sentence for a criminal offense. 

It means that after the defendant completes the sentence or successfully completes probation, he can apply for this benefit. The removal of conviction for violating PC-290 and the underlying crime must be motivated and requested by the person.

Even if the crime is removed from criminal records, a sex crime conviction requires registration as a sex offender. 

Does a conviction for violating Penal Code 290 affect gun rights?


This will depend on how the crime is charged, that is, as a minor or serious crime. People who are generally prohibited from buying, possessing, or carrying a weapon in California are:

  • Criminals convicted of any serious crime in the country.
  • Addicted to controlled substances. 
  • People convicted two or more times for attempted murder – Penal Code 417.
  • Convicted for certain minor crimes (physical assault on the spouse Penal Code 273.5).
  • People with mental illnesses.
  • Children under 18 years of age (minors under 21 years of age cannot acquire a weapon).

Is it possible to apologize in court for being the first time I have not registered?

It all depends on the excuse that you or your lawyer present for not registering. Special circumstances such as a demonstrable emergency, the death of a close relative and others. they could perhaps be excused. 

The defense’s arguments are crucial in these cases for the judge to dismiss the charges. Hence the importance of enlisting the help of a bold and knowledgeable attorney to plead on your behalf. 

What if I moved to California from a state that did not require registration?

Before you move, you should find out whether or not the state of California requires offender registration. Remember that ignorance of the law does not excuse your breach. If you were accused or convicted of a sex crime, it is wise to call an attorney.

At Lluis Law we offer our clients enough information so that they understand the law and are prepared. 

By calling now you will get a personalized consultation where we will explain the consequences of the failure to register as a sex offender in California. We will tell you what defense options are available to you and will assume your defense as a commitment.