Convictions of sex offenses in California have lifelong consequences. One of those consequences is a requirement to register with local authorities as a sex offender. But things happen. Life happens. You may forget to register when required. Even when otherwise following state and federal laws, you can get into trouble for this failure to register as a sex offender.
At Law Offices of Vivian N. Szawarc, our sex crimes defense lawyer in Los Angeles will review your case and help you fight against these types of allegations. In certain circumstances, you may be able to defend a charge of failing to register. That's why it's imperative you have an attorney who knows the law and who can help you. Contact us at 888-666-8820 to schedule a free initial consultation and to learn more about how we will defend you.
Is It a Crime If I Do Not Register as a Sex Offender in California?
Yes. If you are required by a court to register as a sex offender, most states consider it an offense not to do so and impose residency restrictions.
You can be charged with violating the sex offender registry requirements for:
- Failing to attend the initial registration to provide your information to law enforcement authorities
- Failing to attend any recurring registration to confirm or update your information
- Failing to provide full or accurate information during your registration
Failing to register as a sex offender is a continuing offense. This means that the criminal act is ongoing. The law says that you commit the offense every day you fail to register, not just on the first day.
Laws on this offense, however, vary from state to state. You should always speak to a sex crimes defense lawyer in California to confirm what the law says, what your rights are, and what a possible violation means.
Defenses in California for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
You may have a defense under certain circumstances. Generally speaking, three specific defenses exist that you could potentially raise.
- Extenuating Circumstances. A prosecutor may have to prove that you willfully failed to register as a sex offender, but there could be extenuating circumstances that prevented you from doing so, like hospitalization. The extenuating events must be outside the control of the defendant––so, you can't make yourself sick, go to the hospital, and think that you can avoid registering timely and properly.
- Not Informed. You may have a defense if you were not fully informed of the sex offender registry requirements. You must be able to justify this lack of awareness. Examples may include never being told of the registration obligation or never receiving notification of the registry requirements. Mental health conditions that prevent a person from understanding or recalling the obligations can also be a defense, and this would include a mental illness like Alzheimer's disease.
- Lost Registration. In some cases, you may have registered but registration was somehow lost or misplaced by law enforcement. This defense, however, is vulnerable to a "he said/she said" argument that can sometimes be difficult to argue in front of a jury.
If you've been charged with violating the sex offender registry requirements, it's important to seek legal advice from an experienced sex crimes attorney. They can explain any defenses that may apply to your case and the potential outcomes.
Punishment for a Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in California
Failure to register as a sex offender carries harsh penalties, including large fines, probation, and incarceration.
Failure to register can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Some states consider whether the underlying crime was a misdemeanor or felony, and depending on that, the failure to register allegation may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A felony charge increases the seriousness of the allegations and the possible penalties the court may give you.
When sentencing you if convicted for failure to register, the court will also take into account the severity and circumstances of the original crime. Previous convictions for similar conduct will usually result in a harsher sentence.
In addition to any penalty you receive, if you are in the community on a supervised order (like probation or parole), a violation of registry requirements can also result in your return to jail or prison. So, if you are convicted of a failure to register, you will have to finish the sentence from the previous conviction associated with the supervised order and complete any sentence related to the new conviction.
For these reasons, if you have been charged with failure to register, you should speak to an experienced sex crimes defense attorney immediately. At Law Offices of Vivian N. Szawarc, we are here to help.
Contact a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Once you are on the sex offender registry, your personal details and information about the offense are publicly available. This can negatively impact your ability to find work, where you choose to live, and your social well-being, potentially for the rest of your life.
Hiring a sex crimes defense attorney from Law Offices of Vivian N. Szawarc to defend you against a sex crime is the best way to avoid being placed on the sex offender registry in the first place. An attorney who is well-versed in cases of this nature can explain your rights and any legal defenses available to you. They can also represent you in court to ensure you receive a fair trial and reduce your chances of becoming a registered sex offender. Call us today at 888-666-8820 or submit an online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.