Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Chicago
Understanding Penal Code 290
A prosecutor who is looking to prove that you failed to register as a sex offender will need to do so under the elements of crime as established in Penal Code 290.
This means that you will only be found guilty if the prosecutor can successfully prove that all four of the elemental conditions exist:
- It must be proven that you were, in fact, convicted of one of the sex crimes listed under California's Penal Code 290.
- It must be proven that you are a registered resident of California.
- It must be proven that you were aware of your duty to register as a sex offender after your conviction was made.
- It must be proven that you deliberately failed to register as a sex offender.
Assuming that any one of these four components cannot be proven, the prosecution will be significantly impaired in the arguments they attempt to make against you. A comprehensive list of the sexual acts that are considered criminal can be found in California Penal Code 290(c).
Persons accused of a sex crime must also keep in mind that it is up to the discretion of the presiding judge on your case to ultimately determine whether or not you will be required to register as a sex offender. This does not mean that you will not have to register if you are convicted.
Rather, it means that registration may be mandated for an offense that is not listed in California's Penal Code 290(c).
Consequences for Failing to Register
Failing to register as a sex offender after a conviction has been made is a criminal offense of its own. Although it requires the prosecuting attorney to overcome a lot of hurdles, proving that a sex offender failed to register could result in serious penalties for the convicted individual. Unregistered sex offenders will not only be subjected to the possibility of probation time, they will also face up to a year's sentence in county jail (assuming the sex crime you were convicted of is a misdemeanor). Up to three years can be spent in a California state prison if the sex crime offense you were convicted of was a felony.
Failure to register as a sex offender has been classified as a continuing offense. For this reason, offenders can legally be held to the penalties of their offense every single time that a violation is made. Failure to report the duties expected of you can quickly add up, ultimately ending in years of jail or prison time depending on the nature of the offense and the number of times it is committed. According to the state's law, a registered sex offender must update his / her information annually, and it must always be completed within five days of their birthday. Any time an offender moves, he / she will also be expected to update their registration information.
Offenders in California need to be particularly careful because a failure to register offense that is labeled as a felony offense will automatically fall under the conditions set forth by the state's Three Strike's Law. Acting as one count against the minimal three that you are given, even one offense of this nature could significantly impact your future. For individuals who already have two strikes against them, their third strike for failure to register as a sex offender could land them in state prison serving a sentence of up to 25 years.
Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer
The only way to approach the accusation of a failure to register is with an aggressive approach, and nothing less than this will be delivered to you under the representation of an attorney from our firm. There are many options of defense available to individuals in need, each of which will depend on the circumstances leading up to your conviction, as well as those surrounding the accusation that has been made against you.
In some cases, a criminal defense attorney may be able to prove that you did not know about your responsibility to register. If any sort of language barrier exists for the defendant, a viable argument can be made that his / her failure to register as a sex offender was nothing more than a misunderstanding between two people who do not speak the same language. A similar approach may be taken when the defendant has suffered medical trauma that inhibits their ability to understand the consequences of the conviction that has been made.
Other methods of defense include arguing that an attempt to register was made but the information submitted was not received. The annual process of updating your registration information can often be completed in the mail. While convenient, this method can easily be lost or otherwise deterred, thereby preventing you from registering despite your attempts to do so. Due to the fact that registration relies on a clerical worker to input the information you submit, human error may also be sited as a reason for your failure to register. Again, this route circumvents your responsibility, instead focusing entirely on the mistake of another.
If you have been arrested for failing to register as a sex offender, contact a Chicago criminal defense lawyer from my firm without delay.