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New Bill Could End Lifetime Registration for Many Sex Offenders

Oct 26, 2017 by Mike McKneely in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

On the last day of its legislative session, the California State Legislature approved a bill to reform the state’s existing sex offender registry system. Designated as SB 384, the bill passed through the necessary legislative processes in the Assembly and Senate, and now awaits the Governor’s signature. The bill ends the lifetime sex offender registration requirements of many convicted sex offenders on the current public registry in California.

If you’re facing a sex crime charge in California, you need a highly skilled attorney who understands how to protect your rights and develop the most effective defense on your behalf. With extensive experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney in sex crime cases, attorney Michael McKneely of Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer is able to serve you with the intelligence and skill you need to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

Call us today at (559) 443-7442 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced sex crimes lawyer.

The Old Registry System

Only four other states other than California treat all sex offenders (from those who were caught having consensual sexual relations decades ago in a public place to the most sexually violent predators) the same in terms of requiring lifetime sex offender registration. This system has helped create more than 100,000 sex offender registrants – a quantity so large to track it has inhibited the ability of law enforcement to effectively protect communities throughout the state from the most violent offenders.

The current registry is populated with a very large number of low-level offenders, as well as offenders who received convictions a number of decades ago and now may present little to no risk to the public. It is estimated that law enforcement personnel spend 60 percent of their time managing the registry by handling monthly and annual paperwork for low-risk offenders. The concern is that time and resources have been shifted away from monitoring high-risk offenders in the various communities of the state.

Supporters of SB 384 argued that since the registry is public, it also continues to punish people who engaged in consensual sex decades ago in the past and have not since committed any crimes since then.

SB 384 Main Provisions

The new bill creates a tiered system designed to make the State’s registry a more effective and efficient tool for law enforcement agencies.

The bill does not provide relief for all persons who have committed various types of sex offenses. Rather, it places registered sex offenders on a scale. The highest risk offenders will still remain on the State’s registry for life.

The three-tiered system created by the bill is as follows:

  • Tier 1. Registration required for 10 years for non-violent felonies and misdemeanors.
  • Tier 2. Registration required for 20 years for more serious felonies.
  • Tier 3. Lifetime sex offender registration required for high-risk offenders. This list includes sexually violent offenders, repeat violent offenders, and those committing sex offenses requiring a life term on the list.

Tier 1 and Tier 2 offenders are not automatically removed from the registry. Under the new law, individuals are required to petition the local district attorney at the end of their registration period (whether 10 or 20 years) for a review. The court still has final say on whether to allow the removal. As well, the District Attorney has the authority to request a hearing that opposes any petition for removal

The bill, offered by Senator Scott Wiener, would not go into effect until 2021.

This bill was written by law enforcement officials and supported by criminal justice reform groups and rape crisis advocates. The support of these organizations for the bill may be based on its supporters’ stated goals of creating more effective and efficient tool for monitoring known high-risk sex offenders who have lifetime sex offender registration requirements, and also for solving sex offense crimes.

Supporters of the bill include Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley who states that the new bill replaces “an antiquated, ineffective 70 year old system … with an evidence-based and updated method to monitor sex offenders.”

Another supporter, Bradley McCartt, the Deputy in Charge of the Family Violence Division at Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, states that the bill “not only aimed at requiring the most dangerous offenders to continue to have lifetime registration, but also to allow law enforcement to focus their resources on the supervision of these high risk individuals to better protect the public.”

Objections to the Bill

With the Assembly vote of 42 to 22, most of the Republicans in the Assembly, including Melissa Melendez Lake Elsinore, voted in opposition to the bill.

Melendez raised objections to some of the crimes that would move offenders to the second tier and make them eligible to be removed from the sex offender registry after 20 years. These crimes include lewd behavior with a child under 14, and rape by deception.

Melendez stated to her fellow representatives, “We put so many children at risk if we do this.”

Contact an Experienced Fresno Sex Crimes Attorney

If you have been arrested for a sex crime in the Fresno area, you need highly skilled representation immediately. Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer has the experience and resources to stand up for your rights and develop a strong defense against the prosecution’s case on your behalf.

Contact attorney Mike McKneely today at (559) 443-7442 to begin the process and request a free, no obligation consultation about your case.

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