sex offender registry

The last few days have had social media swirling in a frenzy leading up to today’s passage of California SB-145 Sex offender: registration.  The claim is that this bill is legalizing pedophilia in the state, and has resulted in major backlash from the online community including death threats that media is attributing to the followers of QAnon.

At a glance, the claims appear to be true as the exact details of the bill are muddied in penal codes and legal references, making it difficult for the average citizen to follow the exact law references being made.  The summary of SB 145 does not help to clarify the matter.  It reads as follows:

“Existing law, the Sex Offender Registration Act, requires a person convicted of one of certain crimes, as specified, to register with law enforcement as a sex offender while residing in California or while attending school or working in California, as specified. A willful failure to register, as required by the act, is a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the underlying offense.

This bill would exempt from mandatory registration under the act a person convicted of certain offenses involving minors if the person is not more than 10 years older than the minor and if that offense is the only one requiring the person to register.”

Such a summary is definitely a cause for concern, and would drive any normal citizen into a fit of righteous anger.  And while the details of this particular bill are intended to create equal treatment under the law for the LGBT community, it inadvertently brings to light an issue that has been a long standing fact in California:

A person convicted of traditional sex with a minor aged 14 to 17, and is within 10 years age of the minor, is not automatically required by law to register as a sex offender.  This discretion is left to the judge on a case by case basis.

Under existing California law, sex offender registration is automatic and the charge is higher under the law if sex with said minor was sodomy or oral sex.  For whatever reason, this distinction was seen as worse, and therefore was seen as disproportionately targeting the LGBT community.  So what this law did, was amend certain parts of the penal code to create equality despite the type of sexual activity took place. 

So while it makes sense that sexual activity with a minor should be treated equally regardless of the type of sexual activity, it remains baffling that there is such a huge gap that could essentially be considered appropriate by a sympathetic judge.  By contrast, Texas has an age span of 3 years for anyone under the age of 18.  Meaning that yes, an 18 year old could date a 15 year old, but a 21 year old could not date anyone under the age of 18.  Teenagers are kept grouped together, within a similar maturity gap.  Under California law, it is possible for a person to be kept off of a sex offender list while dating a 14 year old at the age of 24.  Of course, California explains this as it being decided on the details of a case by case basis, however it still leaves the door wide open for abuse.

People are upset about this practice, and have a right to be.  Unfortunately, this didn’t begin with SB 145.

Below is a copy of the section of the bill that amends current law, as well as the penal codes in reference. 

From SB-145:

“(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), a person convicted of a violation of subdivision (b) of Section 286, subdivision (b) of Section 287, or subdivision (h) or (i) of Section 289 shall not be required to register if, at the time of the offense, the person is not more than 10 years older than the minor, as measured from the minor’s date of birth to the person’s date of birth, and the conviction is the only one requiring the person to register. This paragraph does not preclude the court from requiring a person to register pursuant to Section 290.006.”

 

Penal Codes:

286 (b) (1) Except as provided in Section 288, any person who participates in an act of sodomy with another person who is under 18 years of age shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one year.

(2) Except as provided in Section 288, any person over 21 years of age who participates in an act of sodomy with another person who is under 16 years of age shall be guilty of a felony.

 

287 (b) (1) Except as provided in Section 288, any person who participates in an act of oral copulation with another person who is under 18 years of age shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for a period of not more than one year.

(2) Except as provided in Section 288, any person over 21 years of age who participates in an act of oral copulation with another person who is under 16 years of age is guilty of a felony.

 

289 (h) Except as provided in Section 288, any person who participates in an act of sexual penetration with another person who is under 18 years of age shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison or in a county jail for a period of not more than one year.

(i) Except as provided in Section 288, any person over 21 years of age who participates in an act of sexual penetration with another person who is under 16 years of age shall be guilty of a felony.

 

288 a) Except as provided in subdivision (i), a person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.

By Josh Earwood

Josh has been an activist, citizen journalist, and commentator since 2013. He spent two years as a broadcast journalist, and has written for various groups in various capacities over the years. He has always been vocal, encouraging others to understand what is going on in the world around them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *