What Is the Penalty for Failing to Register As a Sex Offender in California?

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A person convicted of certain sex offenses must register as a sex offender in California. You might know how difficult it is to comply with this rule.

You might even feel like the law should not apply to you. Notwithstanding, failing to register as a sex offender is a serious crime in California that could send you to prison.

However, just because you face a charge does not mean that you are automatically guilty. Contact The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, today for a free consultation with an award-winning San Diego County sex crimes lawyer who can help protect your rights.

Is Failing to Register As a Sex Offender a Felony?

Whether you face a misdemeanor or felony for failing to register as a sex offender depends on the reason you have to register in the first place.

According to Penal Code §290.018, your charge for failing to register will be a misdemeanor if your underlying sex offense was a misdemeanor. A conviction carries the penalty of up to one year in jail.

Failing to register will be charged as a felony if your underlying conviction is for a felony or if you have a previous conviction for failing to register. A felony-level failing to register charge exposes you to sixteen months, two, or three years in state prison. 

A person adjudicated to be a mentally disordered sex offender faces a misdemeanor for the first failure to register and a felony for any subsequent registration violation. A felony conviction under this section of the statute carries sixteen months, two, or three years in prison.

A person previously adjudicated as a sexually violent predator who fails to re-register every ninety days faces a wobbler charge.

Misdemeanor wobbler charges in California carry a county jail sentence not to exceed one year. According to Penal Code §1170(h), a person convicted of a felony wobbler charge could spend between sixteen months, two, or three years in prison. 

California Penalties for Failing to Register As a Sex Offender

The penalties for a conviction for failing to register might seem mild depending on the possible penalties you faced for your underlying offense.

However, a person on probation or parole who fails to register could have their probation or parole revoked. If revoked, you could return to custody to serve the remainder of your sentence.

Additionally, the judge could issue an incarceration sentence for failing to register after completing your probation or parole.

Call or fill out the form to arrange a free consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney.

Have you Failed to Register as a Sex Offender in California?

Our San Diego County criminal defense attorneys are ready to fight for you. Call our office today at 619-234-2300 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Our founding attorney, Kerry L. Armstrong, is a State Bar of California board-certified criminal defense specialist. He and our experienced criminal defense team provide you with the superior advocacy and emotional support you deserve.

Where You Can Find Our San Diego Office

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Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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