In 2006 California voters went to the polls and 70% of those voting to enact a law that places certain restrictions on sex offenders. The law increased penalties for sex crimes, added to the legal definition of what constitutes a sex crime, and also imposed certain geographical limitations on those defendants convicted of a sex crime. In everyday conversation the law is referred to as "Jessica's Law", or Proposition 83. While some parts of the measures were reasonable and necessary, some of the restrictions imposed significant hardships on criminal defendants. Most notably, the restriction that a convicted sex offender not be allowed to live within 2,000 feet of a school or playground made it hard for those convicted of these types of crimes to find adequate housing.
The result was that many of the defendants falling within this category became homeless, without adding any increased protections for the targeted group: children.
To remedy this flaw in the law, the California Supreme Court recently handed down a decision that changed parts of Jessica's Law. The changes struck down the geographic prohibition on the residence as unconstitutional. The result of this decision can best be summed up as:
- Sex offenders are no longer required to live outside the 2,000 feet restriction.
- The Department of Corrections can still impose other residency requirements for those on parole.
When a restriction is placed on a parolee, it must be related to the terms of the probation. The change is also not applicable to high risk sex offenders, who are still prohibited from living within half a mile of a school. A high risk offender is one where the age of the victim is under 14. While the original law was limited to San Diego County, the Supreme Court's recent ruling makes it clear that the prohibitions are unlawful in every county. The ruling is a win for sex offenders, and will help these defendants find appropriate housing and give them access to valuable community resources such as,
drug and/or alcohol treatment and medical care. If you have questions about how these requirements impact you, call our office for more information.
Knowing how the law applies to the specifics of your case helps you plan for your future, and stay on track with the terms of your probation or parole. Our experienced team of legal professionals stays on top of the latest criminal laws and knows how to apply any changes to your case. Call us today to schedule an appointment to learn more.