September 6, 2011

Expanding sex registration headed to governor

9-6-2011 California:

RIVERSIDE — An Inland Empire lawmaker's bill to close a loophole in the state's sex offender registration law that permits some out-of-state convicts to avoid registering their status is on its way this week to the governor's desk.

Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Beaumont, co-authored SB 622, which was introduced by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro.

The legislation, approved unanimously by the Assembly on Wednesday, stipulates that a person who establishes residency in California and has a sex-related conviction from another state would likely be required to register as a sex offender in California.

Under Penal Code section 290, anyone convicted of a felony sex offense must register with a local law enforcement agency when they move into the area. The law also requires that registrants alert authorities whenever they change residence and annually renew their registration.

In some cases, registrants must update their whereabouts every three months.

Until last summer, the California Department of Justice scrutinized out-of- state convicts to determine whether their sex-related crimes were comparable to offenses in the Golden State and merit being placed on the state's list of 90,000-plus registrants.

However, the DOJ's practice was challenged in a lawsuit that reached the Third District Court of Appeal, which tightly narrowed what elements state prosecutors could examine in determining whether an out-of-state offender should register in California.

The result, according to a legislative analysis, was that someone convicted of rape in Nevada might not be required to register as a sex offender in California because its rape statute mandates that some degree of force be used during the act, while Nevada's does not.

“When the courts barred the Department of Justice from reviewing these sex offender cases, they created a virtual safe haven for the predators,” Cook said.

If Gov. Jerry Brown signs SB 622 into law, the DOJ will have complete discretion to review any out-of-state case, using broad criteria, to ascertain whether a person convicted in another jurisdiction should be compelled to register.

Supporters of the bill include Crime Victims United of California, the California District Attorneys Association and the California State Sheriffs' Association.

Opponents include the American Civil Liberties Union, the California Public Defenders Association and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. ..Source.. by City News Service

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