As every registrant knows visiting local law enforcement for annual registration can be a pain in the butt. The law says registration updates must occur within five days before or after a person’s birth day each year. For me this meant calling the local police station and setting up an appointment. I figured calling five days prior to my birthday should have automatically provided ample opportunities for the records department at the police station to setup an appointment within the time frame allotted by law. Turns out I was wrong and somehow all the normal appointment times had been booked. Of course the normal hours set aside for 290 registration are one hour on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, so those three hours already being booked does not say much.
After talking with the records specialist another appointment time was setup in the morning two days after my birthday. During our phone conversation the specialist politely revealed that because of already being booked, an exception had to be made to book me at another time so my registration could occur within the legal time frame. Arriving at the appointment fifteen minutes early, because I had nothing better to do until I got it out of the way, I thought I might be able to get in and get out quickly. If my local police station is anything like a sheriff or police station near you, arriving fifteen minutes early is too early.
Rather than get done quickly I spent 40 minutes just waiting for the records specialist to finish with someone else. Then it took another ten minutes before she was ready to go over my paperwork. Keep in mind I had already called seven days ago to setup the appointment and was asked if there were any changes since initially registering a few months prior. Nothing had changed, so it would be rational to believe all the paperwork should have been in order. It wasn’t and again I was asked in person if anything had changed. A few minutes later she returned and then I signed/initialed the four pages.
I forgot to mention that most interactions between anyone who has business with the records department happen through a set of bullet proof glass windows in the lobby at the local police station. While being fairly respectful about keeping my reasons for sitting in the lobby between themselves and me, the fact that my conversations with the records department occurred within ear shot of anyone else not there for 290 registration bothered me. Sitting in the lobby waiting for my paperwork to be processed and for someone to come out so my updated picture could be taken, another man started talking with me. When asked why I was there I said to pickup some paperwork and left it at that. Eventually a police cadet came out and let me know it was time to go in the back to finish up the process.
Unfortunately California is one of the states where basically every registrant has to register for life. I did not commit a California offense, but a federal one and am subject to federal registration for 15 years. Back in 2009 I unknowingly broke federal law by coming into possession of materials that I learned in late 2011 through discovery in my case had been classified as child pornography, as a result of the external hard drive the government seized during summer 2010.
Ignorance of the law in the eyes of the law does not matter and I was prosecuted all the same. The government officially indicted me on two counts, one for receipt and one for possession. Agreeing to the governments plea deal meant they would drop the receipt charge at sentencing. Federally judges are not parties of plea deals between the United States attorney’s office and defendants, so they don’t have to abide by anything in any plea deal. With this risk in mind I agreed to plead guilty to having possessed child pornography in early 2012. The USAO recommended a four year prison sentence, my lawyer fought for probation or if the judge handed down a prison term recommended a year and a day. Through convincing mitigating arguments complied by my lawyer the judge reasoned four years was too long, but probation would not be suitable punishment enough. Instead I was sentenced to twenty four months imprisonment, in addition to five years supervised release, and as long as I live in California or the California laws don’t change, life time registration.
I spent seventeen months at a low security federal correctional institute and then four months at a halfway house. Despite not ever having kissed anyone, been on a date, or in a relationship, or physically doing anything remotely sexual with another person in my life, under the law I still committed a sexual offense.
I don’t know why police cadets at the local station are tasked with taking photos and doing finger prints, I guess it’s considered grunt work. While I had my picture taken three months prior I took them again because this was an annual update. For some silly reason the guy had to take my photos twice because the first batch had a problem. This part of the process and putting my thumb print on each page of paperwork was the quickest portion of my registration this time around. I sat in the lobby once more and waited until they processed a copy of everything for me to take with me. Overall my first annual registration was not too stressful or uncomfortable, but it was by no means fun.
At least until I don’t have to register again until next year.
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