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Criminal Defense Attorneys

Registration as a Sex Offender Under PC 290?

Our office has found a surprising number of criminal defense attorneys do not know which convictions require lifetime registration as a sex offender under Penal Code § 290(c) (or that for many, this obligation will change under Senate Bill 384 beginning in January 2021 and in July 2021, many registrants can petition for termination of the registration obligation).

This requirement can be the most important criteria in whether to accept a plea bargain, whether to proceed to trial or whether to even hire private counsel. 
Consequently, it is crucial to understand what convictions require registration and whether a judge has discretion in ordering that the defendant so register.
In a Nutshell: The duty to register as a sex offender is a lifelong obligation for certain folks convicted of certain offenses, even after the law changes in 2021 under SB 384.
First of all, it must be appreciated that the lifetime requirement to register with local law enforcement applies only while the person lives in California, works in California or goes to school here in California.
art 425 - compton courthouseCompton Courthouse

The convictions which carry such a requirement are those that were entered after July 1, 1994 that involve:
  1. Murder (Penal Code § 187), during which defendant committed rape or attempted rape or any act punishable under Penal Code § 286 (sodomy), § 288 (a lewd or lascivious act with a minor), § 288a (a lewd or lascivious act with a minor under 14 years of age); or § 289 (forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object);
  2. Kidnapping (Penal Code § 207) or kidnapping for reward, ransom or extortion, including during a carjacking (Penal Code § 209), committed with intent to commit rape (Penal Code § 261), sodomy (Penal Code § 286), § 288 (a lewd or lascivious act with a minor), § 288a (a lewd or lascivious act with a minor under 14 years of age); or § 289 (forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object)
  3. Felony sexual battery where the victim is restrained (Penal Code § 243.4);
  4. Assault to commit rape or other specified forced sexual acts (Penal Code § 220);
  5. Rape when the victim is severely intoxicated, incapacitated or unconscious (Penal Code § 260);
  6. Rape when accomplished through force or fear (Penal Code § 261);
  7. Statutory rape when charged as a felony and the minor is under 16 (Penal Code § 261.5(d));
  8. Pimping and pandering with a minor (Penal Code § 266h and § 266i);
  9. Human trafficking for prostitution related purposes or for child pornography purposes (“Prop 35” passed on November 6, 2012, see § 9(c));
  10. Felony sexual assault of a child (Penal Code § 269);
  11. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor (Penal Code § 272);
  12. Incest (Penal Code § 285);
  13. Sodomy of a child (Penal Code § 286(c));
  14. Certain felony lewd acts upon a child (Penal Code § 288);
  15. Continuous sexual abuse of a child (Penal Code § 288.5);
  16. Certain acts of forced oral copulation (Penal Code § 288(a));
  17. Lewd acts with a child under 15 when the defendant is at least ten years older (Penal Code § 288(c));
  18. Sexual penetration of a child under 14 when the defendant is at least ten years older (Penal Code § 289(j));
  19. Most acts relating to child pornography (Penal Code § 311);
  20. Indecent exposure (Penal Code § 314); and
  21. Misdemeanor child molestation (Penal Code § 647.6 (formerly § 647(a)).
  22. Any offense that a judge believes you committed as a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification (Penal Code § 290.006)  
Public urination and solicitation of prostitution (Penal Code § 647(b)) usually do not require registration as a sex offender unless the judge finds § 290.006 applies.  Our office has never seem a judge apply 290.006 to either offense.

The duty to register is two-fold.  First, one must register every year with local law enforcement within five days of one’s birthday.  Second, one must report every change in residence within five days of the move.

It merits mention that merely being arrested for any of the above offense can involve one’s employer being notified by police if one works for a public or private school, regardless of whether one is a teacher.

For more information about the issues in this article, click on the following articles:
  1. Court Decides California Sex Offender Law Is Unconstitutional By Barring Those Convicted of Misconduct with Persons under 14 From Relief From PC 290 Registration.
  2. Conviction Related to Sexting Properly Required Sex Offender Registration
  3. Judge Makes Mistake in Ordering Sex Offender Registration after Sentencing for Felony Child Endangerment
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