A newly-amended California sex offender law steps into the national spotlight.
What’s Going On
Why It Matters
- Federal law requires that every state maintain a sex offender registry, but like all criminal laws, sex offender registry requirements vary by state.
- State laws differ regarding WHO must register, how LONG they must register, & the TYPE of information about sex offenders publicly available.
- This month California amended its sex offender law with respect to who is *required* to register as a sex offender.
In cases when the victim was 14 or older and the offender was not more than 10 years older than the victim:
- Judges had discretionary authority to decide whether an adult convicted of having vaginal sex with a minor was required to register as a sex offender.
- Adults convicted of having oral or anal sex with a minor were automatically required to register as a sex offender.
In cases when the victim is 14 or older and the offender is not more than 10 years older than the victim:
- Judges have discretion to decide whether an adult convicted of having any sex (vaginal, oral, anal) with a minor is required to register as a sex offender.
The new law does NOT apply to victims under 14 years of age.
“I cannot in my mind as a mother understand how sex between a 24-year-old and a 14-year-old could ever be consensual, how it could ever not be a registrable offense.”
CA assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D). Under the newly-amended law, no offender is *automatically* required to register as a sex offender *when* the victim is 14 or older and the offender is not more than 10 years older than the victim; critics say it's legalizing pedophilia.
“It’s appalling that in 2020, California continues to discriminate against LGBTQ people…”
CA State Sen. Scott Wiener (D), who introduced the bill, says the previous law did not treat heterosexuals and homosexuals equally, forcing judges in some scenarios to put LGBTQ young people (for example a 19-year-old male engaging in sex with a 17-year-old male) on the sex offender registry. He argues the amended law gives judges more discretion.
The nation's most populous state can serve as a bellwether for future state laws. CA was the first to legalize medical marijuana (1996), and became the second state to legalize same-sex marriage (2008). In 2016, the state's voters — along w/Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — legalized recreational marijuana.
READ THE BILL HERE
READ A WRITE-UP ON THE NEW CA LAW BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
by Jenna Lee,