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Name: In re Watford
Case #: C062550
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/09/2010

Dismissal of the predicate Penal Code section 290 offense after a person has been convicted of failure to register is no defense to the registration conviction which remains in effect. In 1986, petitioner was convicted in Massachusetts of an offense requiring registration pursuant to Penal Code section 290. In 2007, he arrived in California from Massachusetts and failed to register. He was subsequently arrested for failure to register and convicted of the offense in 2008. Following his conviction, he filed a motion to withdraw his plea to the Massachusetts conviction on constitutional grounds and in 2009, the motion was granted. When the district attorney declined to prosecute petitioner a second time, the charge was dismissed. Petitioner then filed a habeas corpus petition as to the registration conviction, claiming that because his status as a sex offender has been eliminated, along with the registration requirement, he is unlawfully incarcerated for failure to register. The appellate court disagreed. Comparing the present case to those upholding a conviction for felon in possession of a firearm when the predicate offense was later found to be invalid (See Lewis v. United States (1980) 445 U.S. 55), the court observed that the language of the registration statutes indicates that the registration requirement applies regardless of the subsequent invalidity of the predicate offense if, at the time of the failure to register, the person was required to register because of a then-existing qualifying conviction. The court declined to address the validity of the conviction if the predicate conviction had been invalidated before petitioner was arrested in California.