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Tougher Sex Offender Laws in Orange County

Orange County has recently approved a law that will restrict the movement of registered sex offenders, effectively barring them from entering beaches, parks and harbor areas.  Under the new law, any sex offender who visits any of dozens of public spaces without prior approval from a county official may face up to six months in jail and/or a $500.00 fines.  

The law, which was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, was spearheaded by OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who insisted the law was to keep sex offenders away from children.  Critics of the law quickly pointed out that most sex offenses do not occur by strangers but rather by family members, thus diminishing the argument of protection.  Further, those same critics suggest that the law may be practically unenforceable since it will be difficult to track those persons who are sex offenders.  For instance, persons on parole who have suffered a sex offense in the past may be subject to GPS monitoring, but their movements are already tracked.  Others who are not on parole or supervision but who still have to register would be undetected.

The law could also be challenged on several constitutional challenges.  Following the election where voters overwhelmingly approved tougher restrictions on where registered offenders could live, i.e., prohibiting persons from residing within 2000 feet of a school, California has had to defend a number of lawsuits that seek to defeat the law.  Similar challenges could be made in Orange County.

It remains to be seen whether this law will pass constitutional muster or could be enforced in a practical manner.  A report of the new law can be found here.