While being convicted of any crime is not something anyone would wish on another person, being convicted of a sex-related crime poses even more issues. In addition to the conviction, prison sentences are especially harsh, and even upon the completion of a prison sentence, almost every such individual will be required to register as a sex offender, further inhibiting his/her ability to obtain a job and/or credit, among other items, even beyond the stigma of having a criminal conviction. Accordingly, retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, especially one versed in defending individuals against sex-related crimes, can be crucial to mitigating these factors. To this end, the California Senate is considering a bill, regarding the sex offender database, which would standardize the discretion accorded to judges over whether someone would be required to register as a sex offender.
Sex Offender Registry
California’s sex offender registry is a means by which authorities can keep track of the activities of sex offenders, including individuals who have completed their sentences. Additionally, being on the sex offender registry will prohibit an individual from residing in certain areas, such as near elementary schools, from being in the presence of underage persons, from owning toys or items targeted towards children, or, in some cases, from using the Internet.
The current California sex offender registry law states that while consensual sex between a juvenile who is between 15 and 17 years old and an individual who is within 10 years of the juvenile’s age is illegal, if the pair is having vaginal intercourse, the presiding judge has the discretion to determine if the individual must register as a sex offender. However, other forms of sex automatically require the individual to register as a sex offender. Senate Bill 145 attempts to fix this, by giving the judge discretion in all cases, assuming the age requirement is still met.
The current state of the law has its basis in the very beginnings of California’s sex offender registry. When created in 1947, sex other than vaginal penetration with a penis were illegal, a situation which existed until 1975. Even then, adults who engaged in such acts with minors continued to be treated more harshly than those who had vaginal intercourse with a minor. This distinction was upheld by the California Supreme Court in 2015. The basis for the court’s ruling was that vaginal intercourse can lead to pregnancy, and forcing a father to register as a sex offender would subject him to a social stigmatization that could make his employment prospects, and the ability to support his child, difficult.
While the court’s ruling does seem reasonable, the issue at the center of the proposed bill is that individuals who are not engaging in vaginal intercourse, including homosexual individuals, do not have the receive discretion from the courts in sentencing, so the law, in effect, treats them differently, which could lead to disparate results, such as an 18 year old male being required to register as a sex offender as a result of oral sex with his 17 year old girlfriend, whereas a 26 year old male may be able to escape such a result as a result of vaginal sex with his 17 year old girlfriend. The nuances of the application of the law to a specific sex acts can be complicated and should be discussed with a criminal defense attorney.
Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged of a sex-related crime in California which could, upon conviction, require you to register as a sex offender, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Manshoory Law Group, APC as soon as possible. Time is always of the essence when it comes to criminal matters, so acting fast is in your best interests. Contact us today for help.