On May 5, 2011, a new law in Orange County, California will prohibit sex offender registrants from going to public beaches, parks, and other recreational areas in the county.
A law cannot violate constitutional rights. This new law provides that registered sex offenders can only go to these public park locations if they receive “consent,” but there is no procedure for requesting “consent” or what the registrant must show to be granted consent.
Clearly, society has an interest in protecting itself from sexual predators. However, in recent years, the restrictions for registered sex offenders have been unreasonably expanded, and people who plead guilty to minor offenses, such as a 20-year-old male who has sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend, or an intoxicated person who exposed himself on one occasion at a party, may be required to register as sex offenders. Should those individuals be banned from all public county parks for life? More importantly, what procedure governs who will be given consent to visit the nearly 60,000 acres of county parks, beaches, and harbors?
The other major constitutional problem with this new law is enforcement. Can you imagine being at the beach with your family when a police officer approaches you and asks if you are a registered sex offender? Why would they single you out? What kind of clues do officers look for to identify sex offenders at the beach? And if the officers cannot identify sex offenders by how they look, how will the law be enforced?
If law enforcement will only be able to arrest you if they personally recognize you as a registered sex offender, then the law places a huge burden on officers to identify registrants. Think about it: police officers will be required to carry a photo of every Orange County sex offender, and if they see someone suspicious, they will have to match that person’s face to one of the thousands of sex offender photos they will be required to carry. And how will law enforcement identify the thousands of sex offenders from other counties and states, who are likewise banned from Orange County beaches?
Our laws require law enforcement to have reasonable suspicion before they can detain you while you and your family spend quality time at the beach. Unless the county tags each sex offender with a tracking device, this new law will not work.
If you or someone you know has been accused of a sex crime, you will need a competent sex crimes defense attorney who will diligently defend you, especially considering that you are not only facing incarceration but sex offender registration. At Wallin & Klarich, we have over 30 years experience defending sex crimes. Call us today at (888) 280-6839 or visit us at our website at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.