FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What do I need to know about registering as a sex offender?

    If you have to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 - this information is to assist you in complying with your new status. Please note you should not consider this guide to be a definitive interpretation of the law, because the law in this area is constantly in flux. Always consult with an attorney should you have questions.

    It is incumbent on the registrant to acknowledge, become familiar with, and comply with all registration requirements. Imposition of 290 registration is typically a life-time requirement. (PC 290.) Only under exceptional circumstances will a person have this registration condition removed.

    Where to Register:  A person is to register with their local sheriff, police, or university police (PC 290.009), depending on where they live. If a person has multiple residences or resides at different locations, then the registrant must register each and every property or location as to where they are living. Please consult your local directory to find the nearest law enforcement agency near you.

    How Often You Are Required to Register:   A person must register within 5 days after their release from custody (whether on probation or parole) unless their incarceration was for 30 days or less and returning to their registered residence (See P.C. 290.015(a) - upon incarceration, a person must preregister prior to their release (See P.C. 290.016(a); 5 days before or after their birthday every year for the rest of their natural life (PC 290.012); whenever the registrant moves; or both. A person who is homeless is required to register with the local authorities every 30 days. (PC 290.011; 290.012(c).)

    Registration Requirements for Moving:  A registrant must notify in person and inform the law enforcement agency of their intent to move; and provide the new address or transient locations. (PC 290.013(a).) If the new address is unknown at the time, then within 5 days of the move, the last registering agency must be notified in writing by certified or registered mail of the new address or location. (290.013(b)).

    Residency Restrictions:  A person who is required to register cannot live wherever they so choose. There are a number of restrictions upon where a registrant can live. Should a registrant be a parolee, they cannot reside with any other person who is also required to register. (PC 30003.5(a).) Further anyone who is required to register cannot reside withing 2000' of any private or public school or park where children regularly gather. (PC 3003.5(b).) This 2000' residency restriction applies to all Penal Code section 290 registrants.

    If You Fail To Register:  Failing to register can be either a new misdemeanor or felony offense. Whether the charge is a felony or misdemeanor depends on the underlying conviction which caused you to register. A typical felon who fails to register is subject to incarceration in county jail or state prison from 16 months to 2 or 3 years state prison. (See PC 290.018(b).) However, most 290 registrant’s prior felony conviction is also a “strike” offense under “Three Strikes”. So failing to register may mean a mandatory state prison commitment for 32 months, 4, or 6 years in which the registrant must serve 80% of his time. Should you have two or more prior ‘Strike’ offenses, then you will be facing a minimum term of 25 years to life. Always consult with a lawyer should you be charged with failing to register.

    Removing 290 Registration Status: Certain offenders may be able to remove their 290 registration status with all its additional encumbrances provided they obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation (See P.C. 4852.01, et seq.).

    The offenders who are not eligible for this relief due to the nature of their convictions or any person who attempted the following offenses (See P.C. 290.5):

    PC 207 or 209 committed with the intent to violate Section 261, 286, 288, 288a or 289; PC 220; PC 243.4 as a felony offense; PC 261(a)(1-5, 6); PC 264.1; PC 266 as a felony; PC 266c as a felony; PC 266j; PC 267; PC 269; PC 286(b)(1) as a felony; PC 286(b)(2)(c-d)(f, g)(i-k); PC 288; PC 288a(b)(1) as a felony; PC 288a(b)(2)(c-g)(i-k); PC 288.5; PC 289(a, b)(d-g)(h) as a felony; PC 289(i-j); PC 647.6

    As a prerequisite to obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation, a person who is a 290 registrant must first obtain a dismissal pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4. A certificate may be issued provided the registrant has not been incarcerated in any prison, jail, detention facility, or other penal institution or agency since the 1203.4 dismissal. The registrant must not be on probation for the commission of any felony offense and present satisfactory evidence residency in the state prior to filing the petition. The typical period of residency is five years, but 290 registrants for most offenses must establish 10 years of residency. (See PC 4852.03(a)(2).

    Relief by Pardon:  If you have committed any of the prior felony offenses specifically denied relief under P.C. 290.5, a person may still be eligible for relief provided they obtain a Petition for Pardon signed by the Governor if there are extraordinary circumstances. (See P.C. 4582.01(e)).

    Typically a Petition for Pardon is done automatically when the Certificate of Rehabilitation has been granted. (See PC 4852.16) In all other circumstances, consult an attorney to see about preparing a Petition for Pardon.

  • What fees will I be charged if I am represented by the Public Defender?

    Felony Cases: There is a $50 registration fee that will be assessed upon the appointment of the Yolo County Public Defender. This fee will offset the legal fee imposed by the county. For felony cases that resolve prior to a preliminary hearing there is a flat fee of $175. For felony cases that proceed past a preliminary hearing there will be a fee of $350.

    Misdemeanor Cases: There is a $50 registration fee that will be assessed upon the appointment of the Yolo County Public Defender. This fee will offset the legal fee imposed by the county. For misdemeanor cases there is a flat fee of $150 if your case is resolved prior to a trial setting conference. If your case proceeds to a trial setting conference you will be charged a flat fee of $275.

    Juvenile Cases: There is a $25 registration fee that will be assessed upon the appointment of the Yolo County Public Defender. This fee will offset the legal fee imposed by the county. In juvenile delinquency matters, parents or guardians are charged a $125 per hour fee. However, the fee is capped at two or three hours, depending on the work required by the attorney, regardless of how long the attorney actually spends working on behalf of the child.

    Specialty Court Cases (Drug Court): There is a flat fee of $125. This fee includes all court appearances regardless of the number of appearances.

    Conservatorship: A $125 per hour fee is assessed. However, the fee is capped at two hours, regardless of how long the attorney actually spends working on behalf of the client.

    Record Mitigation: For record mitigation there is a flat fee of $125 for both adult and juvenile records.

    Violation of Probation: For violations of probation there is a flat fee of $125. You will not be charged an additional fee if your case proceeds to a violation of probation hearing.

  • What if I cannot afford to pay the Public Defender fees?

    If you cannot afford to pay the Public Defender fees you can request that Yolo County Collection Services (YCCS) waive the Public Defender fees. YCCS has authority to waive these fees, in whole or in part, after conducting a financial evaluation and concluding that a person is unable to pay the fees, in whole or in part. Any person who disagrees with YCCS’s assessment regarding ability to pay may request a court hearing on the matter.

  • Will I be charged a fee for the services of the Public Defender?

    Yes, you will be charged a fee for our services. Public Defender fees are paid to Yolo County Collection Services (YCCS). YCCS is located in the County Administration Building (just to the left of the courthouse), 625 Court Street, Woodland, California 95695, (530) 666-8668.

  • What should I do or not do while my case is proceeding?

    Do not talk to anyone about your case, other than your attorney. This is important to remember because anyone other than your attorney may later be forced to testify against you. This includes: family, friends, and if you are in custody other inmates.

    If you are in custody remember that all phone calls at the jail are recorded and can be given to the District Attorney's Office. Letters are copies and can also be given to the District Attorney's Office. If you are in custody you can always call your attorney. If you write your attorney make sure every page of the letter and the envelope are marked "attorney-client privilege." Do not write a letter to the District Attorney's Office or directly to the court.

    You must appear and be on time for all of your court appearances. If you are late or do not show up for court the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. You must always appear for court unless you have specifically discussed this with your attorney prior to the court appearance. If an unforseen circumstance arises contact the Public Defender's Office immediately.

    You must keep in contact with your attorney. If you move or change your telephone number contact your attorney right away.

    For juvenile clients, they must attend school every day it is in session and must not be late unless he/she has an excuse acceptable to the school.

  • What should I bring to my appointment at the Public Defender's Office?

    Please bring any documents or other materials that you feel are relevant to your case to your appointment. The attorney will probably have a copy of the complaint against you and/or the police report or citation made at the time of the incident. 

    For felony cases please also bring the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses or people who have favorable information about your case.

    The attorney will ask you to tell them what occurred leading up to your arrest/citation. It is important to tell the attorney everything about your case. Your conversation with that attorney is completely confidential, and he or she will not divulge any part of your conversation to the prosecutor or judge without your permission.

  • I was convicted of a crime a number of years ago. Can I get that conviction off my record?
    See our Expungement Information Page.
  • What do I do if there is a bench warrant for my arrest?
    If you are currently represented by an attorney inform him or her immediately. The attorney can place you on the court's calendar to clear it up. If you do not have an attorney, call the number to Room 111 (above) and find out which court issued the bench warrant. You will then need to hire an attorney or contact the Public Defender’s Office to take care of calendaring it, or you can calendar it yourself by calling the Court Clerk’s office with the bench warrant number or case number. Bear in mind there are no guarantees that you will not be arrested on the bench warrant until you appear in court.
  • How do I find out if I have a bench warrant for my arrest?
    To find out if you have a have a bench warrant for your arrest you should contact your attorney.  You may also contact the Court Clerk's office located at the Yolo Superior Court, Criminal Division, 725 Court Street, Room 111, Woodland, California 95695, (530) 406-6705. Time permitting, the clerk on duty will do a search for you.  It is recommended that you make inquiries with room 111 by telephone. 
  • How can you defend someone you know is guilty?
    In many respects, a defense lawyer's belief in a client's guilt or innocence is irrelevant. That determination is the job of the judge or jury under our adversarial system of justice. Under the federal and state constitutions, every person charged with a crime by the government is entitled to competent legal representation. The job of a criminal defense lawyer is not only to insure that the innocent are not convicted, it also consists of making sure that charges and punishment are meted out in a fair and evenhanded manner.
  • Wouldn't I be better off hiring my own lawyer?

    First, if you can afford to hire a private attorney, you do not qualify for the services of the public defender and should hire your own lawyer. The Public Defender's Office only represents people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. There are a number of fine criminal defense lawyers in private practice in Yolo County; however, because we are a government agency we cannot recommend any particular lawyer.

    The Yolo County Public Defender's Office is made up of people who practice nothing but criminal law. The salary range of an attorney in the Public Defender's Office is commensurate with attorneys in the District Attorney's Office. Public Defender lawyers are in court doing criminal cases nearly every day. They know all the "ins and outs" of the courts in which they practice.

    The Yolo County Public Defender's Office has the benefit of outstanding in-house support services including a professional investigative staff, clerical staff, interns and law clerks, as well as the shared knowledge and experience of the many lawyers in the office.

  • Does the public defender handle matters other than criminal cases?
    Generally speaking, no. However, persons involved in the following kinds of "civil" cases are often represented by a public defender: Minors in juvenile delinquency cases, parents in juvenile dependency cases, proposed conservatees in L.P.S. and probate convervatorship cases, and persons accused of contempt in civil cases if they are otherwise unable to afford private counsel. If you are being sued, have immigration problems, are being evicted, have a worker's compensation claim, etc., you may qualify for assistance from other agencies, however, as a general rule you will not qualify for the services of a public defender.
  • Can I speak to a public defender before my arraignment (first court appearance)?
    Our office can speak to you about your case prior to court appointment if you desire. Practically speaking, however, our office won’t be able to have a complete discussion with you about your case until we receive the relevant police reports and other discovery from the District Attorney’s Office.
  • Can I speak with a public defender even though I already have an attorney?
    No. Once you are represented in a case by any attorney other than a public defender, either appointed or retained, the public defender will not speak with you about that case absent your attorney's permission.
  • How do I get a public defender?

    At your first court appearance there is usually a deputy public defender who is there to assist you. If you are out of custody, you may be asked to fill out a financial declaration, under penalty of perjury, to determine if you qualify for the services of the Office of the Public Defender or if you are financially able to hire a private attorney. You may also be directed to speak to an agent of Yolo County Collection Services (YCCS) located at 625 Court St, Rm 103, Woodland, CA 95695. The phone number is (530) 666-8668. A $50 registration fee is required if you can afford it.

    If you are in custody a public defender is usually automatically appointed unless private counsel has already been retained. If you have retained counsel but are unable to afford his or her continued representation, inform the court as soon as possible that you would like a public defender.