Convicted sex offenders have certain rules they have to follow even after they’ve completed the required sentence. One such rule is registering as a sex offender. The way California law currently works, sex offenders are required to register with the local law authorities within five days of each birthday if they remain at the same address. If the sex offender moves, they have five days to contact the law authorities in their new location and register as a sex offender.
Failing to be properly registered as a sex offender is a serious deal. Just how serious the consequences of failing to register depends on the initial crime. If you were originally convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime, you will be charged with misdemeanor failure to register. If you have a felony sex crime conviction, the failure to register will be handled as a felony.
If you’re convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, you will likely be sentenced to jail time. In misdemeanor cases, the maximum sentence is a year in jail. In felony situations, you could be spending the next three years in prison.
There have been some legal defenses successfully used in cases that involved failing to register as a sex offender. An inability to register at the required time is the defense that’s most commonly used. Reasons this could happen include severe illness (as you were in the hospital), incarceration, or a natural disaster. If you use this defense, you will have to prove that you did have a valid reason to not register and that you made every effort to get registered as soon as you could do so.
Another common defense is that you weren’t at fault and that the real reason you weren’t properly registered is a clerical error on the law authority’s part. Mistakes do happen. Paperwork gets lost or misfiled, computer records disappear, and people sometimes fail to do what they were supposed to do. Situations like this are why it’s so important for sex offenders to take precautions when they register. Write down the exact time you contacted the authorities and record the name of every officer you speak to while you’re registering. If possible, have a friend who can serve as a witness proving that you did make an effort to hold up your end of the deal.
If you’re a sex offender and you learn that there is a problem with your registration, contact the local authorities immediately and ask how you can quickly resolve the problem. Being proactive is the best way to avoid future jail time.