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Name: Crosby v. Schwartz
Case #: 10-17726
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/04/2012

Defendant’s 25 years-to-life sentence for failing to register an address change pursuant to Penal Code section 290, subdivision (f) is not cruel and unusual punishment. Defendant, a convicted sex offender, was convicted of failing to notify law enforcement of his change in address and failing to register as a sex offender within five working days of his birthday. In state and federal court, defendant challenged his 25 years-to-life sentence as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Applying a “gross disproportionality test” the federal court held the sentence did violate clearly established federal law. Applying the legal framework set forth in Solem v. Helm (1983) 463 U.S. 263, the court contrasted the annual registration requirement with the change of address requirement. While the failure to annually register is a technical violation that, “by itself poses no danger to society,” the change of address notification is “directly related to the state’s interest in ensuring that it knows the whereabouts of its sex offenders.” Failure to notify police of an address change in violation of Penal Code section 290 is therefore not the type of “de minimis crime for which a life sentence is disproportionate . . . .”