How to Beat a Failure to Register Charge
In 2006, Congress enacted the Adam Walsh Act which created the guidelines for sex offender registration across all of the United States. Since then, states have been keeping public records of sex offenders for a specified time, based on the nature of the offenses that led to their conviction, and have determined within their own state how long someone should have to report while on the sex offenders list.
While the sex offender registry has seen many changes over the years, registration remains a requirement in most states, with consequences for not registering as a sex offender, such as prison time and costly fines. Learn is failure to register as a sex offender a felony here.
Unfortunately, many people convicted of a sex crime, which automatically warrants sex offender registration, could have avoided a conviction and needing to register if they sought legal counsel and had a reliable defense attorney working on their side from the beginning. If you or someone close to you is being investigated, arrested, or charged with a sexual crime, do not make this mistake. Having a skilled attorney who focuses solely on sex crimes in your corner can increase the chances of your case coming to the proper resolution, including being dismissed.
Sex Offender Registration Requirements
Is the sex offender registry for life?
Requirements for registration as a sex offender differ based on the severity of the underlying sex offense. Sex offenses warranting registration are classified into three tiers:
Tier I is the lowest level tier for sex offenders. Individuals listed under this tier are often convicted of the least severe sex crimes. Crimes that warrant the first-tier registration include, but are not limited to:
- Indecent exposure
- Possession of child pornography
- Criminal sexual conduct 4th degree against a person 18 years or older
Tier I offenders must update their registration information once every year, at the beginning of the year. Offenders in this category do not appear on the public record, but remain on the private law enforcement registry for 15 years.
Tier II offenses are higher than Tier I in severity, but lower than Tier III. Tier II offenses include, but are not limited to:
- Criminal sexual conduct 2nd degree involving a person above 13 years old
- Distribution of child pornography
- Crimes Against Nature: Sodomy if the victims is under 18 years of age, but older than 13
Offenders under this tier will have their name in the public Michigan Sex Offender Registry for 25 years. Additionally, they will have to update their registration requirements with their local law enforcement agency at the beginning and the middle of each year. This information, again, will be public.
Offenses listed under this tier are the most severe, including, but not limited to:
- Criminal sexual conduct 1st degree
- Assault with intent to commit sexual penetration
- Criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree (third degree felony)
Tier III offenses attract lengthy sentences, and offenders will have their names on the registry for life. They are also required to update their registration information every four months, which will all be public.
Information Required at Registration
After a conviction, and satisfying other statutory requirements, the law requires a sexual offender to register with the local police department within two days of leaving jail or prison. Some of the information sex offenders must provide at registration, as stipulated under the law, include:
- Official names, aliases, and any other name used under any setting, including social media
- Physical description, including birthmarks and tattoos
- Date of birth
- Current address and contact information
- Recent color photo of themselves
- Online identifiers and their login credentials
Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Having to register as a sex offender can be humiliating. The experience is even more embarrassing for those who believe they were wrongfully convicted of sexual offenses. However, irrespective of how the conviction happened, failing to register as a sex offender is a felony, punishable by costly fines and/or prison time.
Michigan Law Section 28.729 of the Sex Offender Registration Act states that a willful failure to register offense is a felony offense and is punishable as follows:
- Imprisonment for four years, a fine not exceeding $2,000, or both
- Imprisonment for seven years, a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both if the offender was previously convicted
- Imprisonment for ten years, a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both if there was a third or consecutive convictions
Failure to comply with the registration fee requirements within 90 days after registration will result in a maximum of 90 days in county jail. Additionally, failure to sign registration papers will result in a misdemeanor, upon conviction, carrying a jail time sentence for not more than 93 days, a fine of $1,000, or both.
How to Beat a Failure to Register Charge
If you face criminal charges for failure to register as a sex offender, the most important step towards beating your charges would be to seek an experienced criminal defense lawyer who focuses on sex crime cases to help defend your charges. Even if your reason for failing to register wasn’t intentional, challenging the prosecution’s case is something only a criminal sexual conduct attorney who focuses solely on sex crimes knows best.
The Different Approaches that may be Used by Your Attorney to Fight Your Failure to Register Charges
● Extenuating Circumstances
For a person to get a conviction with failure to register, prosecutors must prove that the person willfully failed to register. If a person’s failure to register results from circumstances outside their control, that can be a strong defense in the case.
A good example is if you are involved in a tragic accident just a few days before you are due to register and end up staying in hospital for two months. Under such circumstances, your attorney could use extenuating circumstances as a defense to have your case dismissed.
● Lack of Awareness
Since a conviction with failure to register requires the commission of the offense to be willful, it is possible to use lack of awareness as a defense. However, this defense can only be effective if the lack of awareness is justifiable.
For example, if a defendant was not told about their obligation or did not understand it, forgetfulness may not apply as lack of awareness. However, it may be admissible if it results from a psychological condition, such as Alzheimer’s or amnesia following brain trauma.
● You Did Register
No system is 100% error-free, and it is possible to be charged with failing to register when you did in fact register. Unfortunately, this may lead to a situation of your lawyer’s word against the prosecutors’ or the law enforcement’s word, which may not work in your favor.
Your best bet at substantiating your claims would be if you retained a copy of your registration documents and receipts from the police department, which your lawyer can present in court as evidence.
Let Attorney Nicole Blank Becker Help You Fight Your Criminal Sexual Conduct Charges
While failure to register is a serious charge, it is beatable with the help of an accomplished criminal defense attorney like attorney Nicole Blank Becker, of Blank Law, PC.
Nicole is a Michigan-based attorney whose legal practice only focuses on sex crimes. Her 20+ years of experience and her dedication to sex crimes puts her at the head of sex crime defense.
Nicole does not discriminate against anyone based on their crimes. Her greatest strength is building a solid attorney-client relationship, which allows her clients to feel comfortable when sharing the details of their case.
If you are being investigated, have been arrested, or are being charged with any type of sex crime and you want a criminal lawyer who is aggressive and willing to fight the battle ahead, you need to call Blank Law, PC at (248) 515-6583 or contact attorney Nicole Blank Becker online to book your free consultation.