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Penal Code 290 PC - Failure To Register As A Sex Offender In California


After July 2021, individuals convicted of specific sex offenses will be mandated to register as sex offenders for either 10, 20 years, or for the duration of their life, depending on the nature of the sex crime they were convicted for. This is referred to as California’s recently implemented Tier System for Sex Offenders.

As per the new legislation, individuals who were previously subjected to lifelong sex offender registration can petition the court to have this requirement lifted if their conviction meets certain qualifications.

Failure to register as a sex offender in California, after being ordered to do so as part of a conviction for a qualifying sex offense, constitutes a crime. The laws pertaining to the offense of failure to register as a sex offender can be found in California Penal Code sections 290(b), PC 290.018(a), and PC 290.018(b). According to this law, sex offender registration must be renewed every five years and whenever an offender changes their residence.

Please note that failure to register as a sex offender can also be considered a violation of probation for defendants who are still under probation following a conviction for a qualifying sex offense. Additionally, even if a defendant’s probation period has ended, the district attorney may still bring criminal charges under PC 290(b) or PC 290.018, as the duty to register is both a term of probation and a separate state requirement.

California Penal Code 290(c) Law

Under California Penal Code Section 290(c) PC, certain offenses may require individuals to register as sex offenders. Any individual who has been convicted of rape, or any offense punishable under Section 286, 288, 287a, or 289; Section 207 or 209 committed with the intent to violate Section 261, 286, 288 PC, 288a PC, or 289; Section 220, except assault to commit mayhem; Section 243.4, paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), or (6); or subdivision (a) of Section 261, paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 262 involving the use of force or violence and sentenced to state prison; Section 264.1, 266, or 266c; subdivision (b) of Section 266h PC, subdivision (b) of Section 266i PC, Section 266j, 267, 269, 285, 286, 288, 287a, 288.3, 288.4 PC, 288.5, 288.7, 289, or 311.1; subdivision (b), (c), or (d) of Section 311.2; Section 311.3, 311.4, 311.10, 311.11, or 647.6; former Section 647a; subdivision (c) of Section 653f; subdivision 1 or 2 of Section 314 PC; any offense involving lewd or lascivious conduct under Section 272; or any felony violation of Section 288.2 are considered qualifying sex offenses (Abbrev.). Additionally, this includes individuals who have been or will be convicted of attempting or conspiring to commit any of the aforementioned offenses.

The majority of offenses outlined in PC 290(c) are serious felonies that qualify as strike crimes under California’s Three Strikes Law. These offenses mostly involve sex crimes, such as rape, assault with intent to rape, Indecent Exposure, sexual battery, production of child pornography, and other similar offenses involving minors. There are only a few exceptions to this list, such as annoying or molesting children, which also fall under the same category.

These individuals are mandated to register with the chief of police of the city in which they reside, attend school, or work while in California.

Additionally, in some cases, a judge may order sex offender registration for offenses that are not specifically related to sex crimes. For example, if a kidnapping conviction, as defined in California Penal Code Section 207 PC, was committed for sexual gratification or compulsion, the judge may order sex offender registration.


How to Register As A Sex Offender California

According to California PC 290(b), individuals who are required to register as sex offenders must personally appear at the local police department or Sheriff’s Department in the city where they reside. It is important to complete the registration process within five working days after release from custody or probation. If there is a change in residence, the individual has five working days to update their sex offender registration.

Even if a defendant is homeless, they are still required to register as a sex offender within five working days of being released from custody. In such cases, instead of providing a residential address, the defendant must register as a transient. It is important to note that if the defendant remains homeless, they must continue to register as a transient sex offender every thirty days until they establish a residence (as per PC 290.011).

Under Penal Code 290.012, all individuals who are required to register as sexual offenders must update their registration annually, within five working days of their birthday. However, for sex offenders who have been classified as sexually violent predators, their registration must be updated no less than every 90 days, as mandated by Penal Code 290.001.

When registering under PC 290(b), the process involves photographing and fingerprinting the defendant. Additionally, the defendant’s name, address, and telephone number are collected, along with their employer address and the license plate number of any vehicle registered to them, as outlined in PC 290(e)(2).

It’s important to note that other requirements may apply, so it’s advisable to consult with a criminal defense attorney for specific information regarding sex offender registration in California.


California Department of Justice – Registrant FAQs


In order to establish that a person failed to register as a sex offender, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant has a prior conviction for one of the sex crimes specified in California Penal Code Section 290PC.
  • The defendant was a resident of California.
  • The defendant was aware of their obligation to register as a sex offender.
  • The defendant intentionally and knowingly failed to register as a sex offender or failed to update their registration annually.

Certain PC 290 violations have different requirements for proof. For instance, individuals classified as transient sex offenders must register with local law enforcement every thirty days.


A man is convicted of possession of child pornography under California Penal Code Section 311.11 PC, and as part of his sentence, he is ordered to register as a sex offender for a period of ten years. After completing his prison term and parole, the man moves to a new city within California and fails to update his registration within the required timeframe. Despite being aware of his duty to register, he intentionally avoids fulfilling this obligation.

In this scenario, the man could be prosecuted for failure to register as a sex offender under Penal Code Section 290 PC for not updating his registration in a timely manner. The fact that he intentionally evaded his registration requirement would be taken into account during the legal proceedings. It’s important to note that the specific consequences and penalties for this offense will depend on the circumstances and the judge’s decision.

California Penal Code 290(b) PC Penalties

Under PC 290(b), the consequences for failing to register as a sex offender depend on whether the initial sex crime the offender committed was classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. However, there are limitations, and it is typically charged as a misdemeanor when the underlying conviction that requires registration as a sex offender is also a misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor Sentence

If you intentionally fail to register after being convicted of a misdemeanor offense or a juvenile adjudication, you could be charged and convicted with a misdemeanor offense as per California state law. (PC 290.018(a) Abbrev.).

The offender may face the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor or summary probation
  • County jail imprisonment for up to one year
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.

Felony Sentence

If an individual willfully fails to register after being convicted of a qualifying offense, which is a felony, it is considered a separate crime under California Penal Code Section 290.018(b) PC. The offender may be subject to the following penalties:

  • Felony or formal probation
  • Imprisonment in the state prison for a period of 16 months, two years, or three years.
  • A maximum fine of $10,000.

Even if probation is granted, you will still be required to serve a minimum of 90 days in Los Angeles county jail. The specific penalties may depend on the circumstances of the case and the discretion of the court. (PC 290(g)(2) Abbrev.)

Penal Code 290.018(f) PC – Sexually Violent Predator Registration

Under PC 290.018(f), individuals who have been adjudicated as sexually violent predators, as defined in Section 6600 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and fail to verify their registration every 90 days as required by subdivision (b) of Section 290.012, may be punished with imprisonment in either the state prison or a county jail for up to one year. (PC 290.018(f) Abbrev.)

Penal Code 290.011 PC – Transient Registrants

If an individual is required to register according to Section 290.011 and intentionally fails to meet the requirement of registering at least every 30 days, they will be considered guilty of a misdemeanor. The punishment for this offense is imprisonment in a county jail for a minimum of 30 days, but no more than six months. Additionally, it should be noted that a person cannot be charged multiple times for failing to register within a 90-day period. (PC 290.011 Abbrev.)

Penal Code 290.018(h) PC – Fail to Prove Residency

Under PC 290.018(h), if a registered sex offender fails to provide proof of residency as required, regardless of the underlying offense that necessitates registration, he will be charged with a misdemeanor. The punishment for this offense is imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of six months.

Penal Code PC 290.018(j) PC – Failure to Provide Information

Under section PC 290.018(j), failing to provide the necessary information on registration forms from the Department of Justice, or providing false information, is a crime. This offense can result in imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year.

Probation Sentence

A probation sentence is a period of supervision instead of serving time in jail or prison. Probation is an option for cases falling under PC 290(b) and 290.018, but only if there are extraordinary circumstances that justify not incarcerating the defendant in the interest of justice. Registration as a sex offender is a mandatory condition of probation, along with several other terms that must be adhered to in order to fulfill the requirements of probation outlined in PC 290.018(c).

Penal Code PC 1170(h) PC Sentencing

According to section PC 1170(h) on sentencing, if a defendant is found guilty of the crime of failure to register as a sex offender and probation is not granted, then the defendant must serve their sentence in a state prison rather than a local county jail. Furthermore, none of the prison sentences can be suspended or divided.

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

Failure to register as a sex offender is not generally considered a crime involving moral turpitude. However, if the defendant willfully fails to register rather than negligently failing to register, it may be viewed as a crime involving moral turpitude. Crimes involving moral turpitude are regarded as morally wrong acts that can have specific consequences for non-U.S. citizens, licensed professionals, and others.


There are multiple defenses available for a charge of failure to register as a sex offender under PC 290.018. These defenses include involuntary intoxication, insufficient evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, insanity, inability to register due to a disability, statute of limitations, mistake of fact, and various others.

One possible defense against a charge of failure to register as a sex offender is lack of knowledge of the registration requirement. If an individual can demonstrate that they did not have sufficient knowledge of their obligation to register, they cannot be convicted for subsequent failure to register. While courts generally make it clear and explicit when informing defendants about their registration requirements, there may be instances where this advice was not properly provided or other factors, such as language barriers, prevented the defendant from being properly notified. In such cases, a thorough examination of the court record may be necessary to establish that the defendant was not adequately informed about the requirement to register as a sex offender. However, it is important to note that simply forgetting to register is not a valid defense.


Immigration Consequences

A conviction solely for PC 290, which refers to failure to register as a sex offender in California, typically does not have any negative immigration consequences. However, it’s important to note that under US immigration law, certain criminal convictions in California can result in deportation or inadmissibility for non-citizens. These include crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, controlled substances offenses, firearms offenses, and domestic violence crimes. While a violation of PC 290 does not fall into these categories, if the individual has an underlying sex-related charge that does, they may face negative immigration consequences.

Can Penal Code § 290 PC Charges Be Expunged?

An individual who has been convicted under California PC 290 can take steps to attempt to have the offense expunged. According to Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement relieves the individual from most penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction. One specific benefit is that an expunged conviction does not need to be disclosed to potential employers.

To be eligible for CA PC 290 expungement under PC 1203.4, the applicant must have successfully completed probation, whether it was felony or misdemeanor probation, and must not currently be charged with a criminal offense, on probation, or serving a sentence for a criminal offense.

This means that once the defendant has fulfilled the requirements of their probation or completed their jail term for the violation of PC 290 and the underlying offense, they can pursue expungement.

It is important to note that even if the offense is expunged, the person will still be required to register as a sex offender.

Related Crimes

Related offenses include any of the underlying crimes that can trigger a registration requirement, such as:

Speak With Criminal Defense Lawyer From Tabibnia Law Firm

If you have been charged with failure to register as a sex offender, filed under PC 290(b), 290.018, or any 290 subsection. Get immediate assistance from an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and identify any extenuating circumstances that could potentially prevent or reduce charges. One highly reputed attorney in this field is Cyrus Tabibnia from Tabibnia Law Firm, who has over 18 years of experience handling cases of this nature. Mr. Tabibnia is known for his expertise and dedication to providing the best possible defense for his clients.

To learn more about failure to register as a sex offender and to schedule a free consultation, you can contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Cyrus Tabibnia at 866-713-2159.


California Department of Justice California Justice Information Services Division, “Registrant FAQs,” accessed December 20, 2021

California Legislative Information, “Penal Code – PEN § 290,” accessed December 20, 2021

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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