California Penal Code section 290(b) – Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

California sex crime laws cover a multitude of offenses ranging from minor infractions to felonies. With most sex offense statutes, one of the primary punishments is registering as a sex offender under California Penal Code section 290 (PC 290), sex offender registration law.

Violating any of the offenses that could lead to this requirement will have a lasting effect on your future. Failing to meet such requirements will only make future penalties harsher. Get the help you need by finding an aggressive criminal defense attorney to fight on your behalf.

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Definition of PC 290

To understand the full extent of this law, we must first look at its definition. The Sex Offender Registration Act is also referred to as Megan’s Law. It’s explained under PC 290, which states that anyone who lives in California and was convicted of a sex crime falls under the purview of this law.

Those who are required to abide by PC 290, must register with the police department of the city/county they reside in. This registration must be updated/renewed every time there is a change of address and every year, within five business days of their birthday. They are subject to this statute if they were convicted of a sex crime and move to California from another state.

Discretionary and mandatory are two ways the sex offender registration requirement would be included in a misdemeanor or felony conviction. Discretionary as outlined under PC 290.006 means the court made the order. In other words, someone could get penalized regardless of whether the offense committed was a sex crime or not. If the court discovers that the crime was committed for the purposes of sexual arousal/gratification, they will add the requirement to the sentencing. Mandatory penalization means the registration requirement was a result of a conviction.

Tier Levels for Sex Offender Registry

Once convicted of a sex crime, there are several tier levels the defendant will be categorized as. These levels are outlined under California’s Senate Bill 384 (SB) and state:

  • Tier one offenders are required to register for a minimum of ten years.
  • Tier two offenders are required to register for a minimum of twenty years.
  • Tier three offenders are required to register for a lifetime.

California PC 290(b), Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

The specific requirements detailed under PC 290, sex offender registration is:

  • Reporting to the police or sheriff’s station of the city or county you reside in;
  • Submitting the proper paperwork/report, which includes:
    • Your full name and any previous names used;
    • Home address;
      • This includes any places or residences that you intend on visiting or staying in short-term.
    • Home, cell, or any other contact number;
    • Physical identifying features;
      • Includes obvious physical attributes such as eye color, hair color, height, weight, etc.
      • Also, any tattoos, birthmarks, piercings, or scarring.
    • Student status;
      • Information regarding any college campus you are attending.
    • Vehicle information;
      • Even if you do not own a vehicle, if you drive one, that automobile must be reported.
    • Any identification numbers from your criminal background;
      • Such as from the CDCR, FBI, or any other local, state, or federal agency.
  • Getting fingerprinted;
  • Updated photograph; and
  • You must always carry the current/valid PC 290 registration receipt.

If someone fails to meet any of the registration requirements, they are in violation of this law. Even if the conditions were met most of the time, missing just one registration will lead to legal penalization.

Cases where the defendant is considered a sexually violent predator (SVP) has additional provisions. In addition to reporting any address changes, they must meet with the local law enforcement agency and update the registration requirements every 90 days.

Unfortunately, offenders who are homeless must still report themselves to local law enforcement agencies. In fact, the reporting/update requirements become more stringent because instead of reporting/updating annually, they must report/update every thirty days.

Whenever the offender decides to leave the county/jurisdiction they are registered in they must report this. They may be required to report and/or register in the new county they happen to be visiting.

Felony Failure to Register

Under California’s Three Strikes Law, if certain requirements are met, a felony charge could count as a third strike. This means facing a potential 25 years to life in a state penitentiary. However, for that to happen, the following criteria must be proven true:

  • The defendant committed a felony sex crime that required sex offender registration;
  • There are two or more prior felony convictions that were deemed violent or serious felonies; and
  • One of those felonies was any of the following, particularly serious crimes:
    • Murder, manslaughter, or attempted homicide.
    • A heinous sex crime that included force, threats, or violence.
    • Oral copulation, sexual penetration/rape, or sodomy of a minor under 14 years old and who is ten or more years younger than the offender.
    • PC 288, lewd/lascivious acts with a minor under 14 years old.

Similar and Related Offenses

Any conviction for a California sex crime would result in facing sex offender registration. The following list are the PCs that have a consequential outcome of requiring the guilty party to register as a tier 1, 2, or 3 sex offender, as listed under PC 290(c). This is one of the obligatory punishments regardless of whether you face misdemeanor or felony penalties under any of these statutes.

  • Sexual Battery, PC 243.4
    • Solicitation to commit a sex crime, PC 653f(c)
  • Rape, PC 261- 262
    • Aiding or abetting a rape, PC 264.1
    • Aggravated sexual assault on minor under 14 years old, PC 269
    • Incest, PC 285
    • Sodomy, PC 286
      • Engaging in sodomy with a minor under 10 years old, PC 288.7
    • Rape using force or fear, PC 289
    • Continuous sexual abuse of a minor, PC 288.5
  • Lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, PC 288
    • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor with sexual misconduct (lewd or lascivious), PC 272
    • Pimping or pandering a child/minor, PC 266h & 266i
    • Child Procurement, PC 266j
    • Oral copulation with a minor, PC 288a
    • Indecent Exposure, PC 314
      • Child Pornography Laws, PCs 311.1- 311.11
      • Showing obscene material to minors, PC 288.2
    • Contacting minor(s) with intentions to commit certain felonies, PC 288.3
    • Arranging a meeting with minor(s) for lewd/lascivious purposes, PC 288.4

There are situations where the following crimes are committed with the original intention being to commit any of the offenses mentioned above. If it is discovered that someone committed any of the felonies below in direct correlation with unlawful sexual misconduct, they face a lifetime mandatory sex offender registration requirement.

  • Assault, PC 220
  • Kidnapping, PC 207 & 209
  • Murder, PC 287

Anyone who attempts to commit or plan a conspiracy to commit one or more of the crimes mentioned above will result in requirements pursuant to PC 290, sex offender registration. The judge must sentence the offender to this statute, without exception.

The Prosecution

There are elements of the crime that the prosecution must prove in order to get a conviction for violating California’s failure to register as a sex offender law, PC 290(b). These are also known as facts of the crime and they are:

  • The defendant was convicted of a California sex crime;
  • As a penalty, they were required to register under PC 290(c);
  • The defendant lives in California;
  • They knew they were ordered by the court to register; and
  • They willfully ignored or failed to update their registration.

Examples of Who Can Be Charged

To gain a better idea of who could face charges for violating PC 290(b), failure to register as a sex offender, look at the scenarios below. These types of situations can lead the prosecution to a successful conviction if the facts are undeniable.

Scenario 1:

Bob was convicted of California PC 243.4, sexual battery. He moved from San Francisco to San Diego without updating his new address with the local law enforcement agency of the city he currently resided in. Bob can be charged with violating PC 290(b) because anytime someone moves, the update must be reported as soon as possible to the local police or sheriff’s station.

Scenario 2:

Sally was convicted of PC 314, indecent exposure. She got drunk and decided to streak across a public park where children were playing. After moving to a new neighborhood, she did not want to update her registration information because of the stigma. She did not want her new neighbors to find out and think she were a child abuser/pedophile. Sally can be charged with violating PC 290(b).

Scenario 3:

Mike was convicted of sexual assault with aggravating factors when he was in college. For a few years following the conviction, he would register. After some time, he simply wanted to forget about that part of his life and stopped his annual registration. Mike can be charged with violating PC 290(b).

None of these scenarios have valid legal excuses for failing to meet the registration requirements. The prosecution will have little to no difficulties charging any of those offenders with violating PC 290(b), failure to register as a sex offender.

What a Legal Defense Can Do for You

Attempting to fight these charges alone can have a negative impact on the outcome of your case. It is highly recommended you get the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer. An effective legal counsel understands the many defenses that have been used to fight these allegations.

Getting the recommended help will give your attorney the opportunity needed to present a strong defense on your behalf. Below are several examples of the common defenses.

Did you willfully fail to register?

If the defendant did not knowingly, intentionally, purposely, or willfully fail to register, they are not guilty of violating PC 290(b). There is documentation that can make this argument hard to use. Especially when considering any court documents that the guilty party signed. Although this defense may be difficult to prove, there are instances where it is highly relevant. Such as:

  • Defendants that did not fully understand what they were signing because English is not their native language.
  • Defendants that suffered any medical ailments preventing them from registering in time with their local law enforcement agency.
    • This includes if a family member were sick, injured, or otherwise medically incapacitated which kept you preoccupied.

Is this a false accusation?

There are situations which warrant this defense. Due to the stigma attached to being convicted of any sex crime and having to register, it can be difficult to avoid harsh treatment. Keeping this in mind, law enforcement agencies are no exception to this. For example:

  • The defendant turns in all necessary documentation in time, but the officer that is handling it continues to “lose” the paperwork. This could lead to them charging you with failure to register.
    • This can turn into their word against yours, unless there is definitive proof that you turned in the registration. Such as, you have video recording or police department surveillance shows you physically turning in your paperwork.

Was the proper information received?

There are cases where the defendant attempted to register, but the information turned in was lost or just not received. Whether through human error or mailing mishaps, if you did not willfully fail to register, you are not guilty of PC 290(b). For instance,

  • The defendant went in person to update their registration, but the information you gave was incorrectly entered into the computer registry system.
  • The defendant mailed in their required information, but the local police or sheriff’s station did not receive it.
    • This could be due to post office mishaps, such as letter machines damaging the mail, or
    • It was lost after delivery.

It can be challenging to use any of these legal defenses on your own. Especially because each one places the burden of proof on the defendant’s shoulders. Ultimately, this is why it is paramount that you retain legal counsel as soon as you are accused of violating PC 290(b), failure to register as a sex offender.


The legal consequences for PC 290(b), failure to register as a sex offender depends upon the criminal conviction that originally led to this penalty.

You face misdemeanor punishments if;

  • The required registration was based on a misdemeanor conviction, and
  • There are no prior convictions for failure to register as a sex offender.

However, you would face felony charges if there is a prior conviction for a felony sex offense or if there are prior convictions for failing to register pursuant to PC 290(b).


  • Summary (informal) probation;
  • As much as one thousand dollars in fines; and/or
  • Up to one year in the county jail


  • Formal (felony) probation;
  • Up to ten thousand dollars in fines; and/or
  • 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison.

Additional Penalties

It is important to note there are California cities and counties that have local ordinances in place for any person required to register under PC 290. These ordinances prohibit convicted and registered sex offenders from being within three hundred to five hundred feet of:

  • Public and private grade schools,
  • Pre-schools,
  • Child care or daycare centers,
  • Facilities where children are known to gather,
    • YMCA
    • Recreational Centers
  • Arcades,
  • Bus stops where children generally gather,
  • Public swimming pools,
  • Public libraries,
  • Public Parks, or
  • The beach, including
    • Piers, or
    • harbors.

Sentencing Enhancements

Failure to register as a sex offender is also legally referred to as a continuous offense. In other words, those required to register can incur more criminal consequences and are subject to any of the above penalties every time they fail to report. This means an additional violation will potentially result in more county jail or state prison sentences.

Who Can Help?

Many reports involving sex offender registrants reveal how tough it can be to find employment, housing, or enrollment for continued education. Homelessness and unemployment are potential long-term consequences for being convicted of PC 290(b), failure to register under California’s Sex Offender Registration Laws.

If you or someone you know faces potential legal action for violating any of the previously specified offenses, it is paramount that you get the help you need. Located in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, or the state of Illinois? Then contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum. As an affordable, experienced, and top-rated criminal defense attorney with a history of successful cases, you will not be disappointed.

For more information on any of the statutes related to PC 290 , call us today, at 619-233-4433 or go online to schedule your free consultation.