Blanket Ban on Where Sex Offenders May Live Unconstitutional
The California Supreme Court decided unanimously on Monday, that the statewide restriction on where sex offenders may live violates the constitutional rights of parolees in San Diego County. Although the decision affects only San Diego currently, it paves the way for offenders in other California counties to challenge sex offender residency rules.
In 2006, Jessica’s Law barred sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of a school or park where children gather, regardless of whether the convicted crime involved children. Sex Offenders in San Diego challenged the restriction arguing it made it impossible for them to find places to live.
Writing for the court, Justice Marvin Baxter said such an onerous burden, imposed without individual evaluation, cannot be justified even under the highly deferential “rational basis” test, which requires only that a law be rationally related to a legitimate government interest:
“Blanket enforcement of the residency restrictions against these parolees has severely restricted their ability to find housing in compliance with the statute, greatly increased the incidence of homelessness among them, and hindered their access to medical treatment, drug and alcohol dependency services, psychological counseling and other rehabilitative social services available to all parolees, while further hampering the efforts of parole authorities and law enforcement officials to monitor, supervise, and rehabilitate them in the interests of public safety. It thus has infringed their liberty and privacy interests, however limited, while bearing no rational relationship to advancing the state’s legitimate goal of protecting children from sexual predators, and has violated their basic constitutional right to be free of unreasonable, arbitrary, and oppressive official action.”
The court said residence restrictions are still permissible as a condition of parole, “as long as they are based on the specific circumstances of each individual parolee.”
The California Penal Code Section 290 sets forth the registration requirements if convicted for a sex offense. Registration of a sex offender means keeping local law enforcement agencies informed of your whereabouts. In order to comply with reporting requirements under the Code a defendant must personally register his/her primary address with law enforcement within 5 working days of conviction date (if no jail time imposed), release from custody, or discharge from a hospital or mental institution.
Who Must Register and When
Offenses that are subject to sex offender registration under the Code include, but are not limited to rape and sexual battery, most acts involving minors, forced acts involving oral copulation or sodomy, or indecent exposure. Events that trigger registration with local law enforcement include, on the offender’s birthday, moving/change of residences, upon release from custody, when leaving the state or county, if a student at college/university, or a name change.
Lifetime registration is required for all sex crimes whether committed in California or elsewhere. A small class of people with minor sex crimes (such as indecent exposure) can petition for removal from registry after a period of crime-free life, but serious crimes are excluded. Certain classes of consenting sexual activity between persons close in age can result in registration, but is not mandatory. These are typically statutory rape-type crimes. Judges make the decision regarding registry at the time of sentencing. All sexually violent predators and mentally disordered sex offenders must register for life.
Sex offense charges are very serious and carry significant punishment even after jail time or probation. If you have been charged with a sex offense you should speak with an experienced attorney. The Rodriguez Law Group handles sex offenses and has over 13 years of prosecutorial experience as well as years of experience defending serious criminal offenses.