When a person is convicted of a sex crime, he or she is often required to register with that state’s sex offender registry. This registry is often made public and includes details of the individual’s crime(s), physical characteristics, and street address. Megan’s Law, as this is referred to, was enacted in response to the 1994 murder of 7-year old Megan Kanka. She was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender who moved into a house across the street from the family without their knowledge.
Sex offender registration in many states is mandatory, and inclusion on the list often restricts an individual’s ability to obtain gainful employment, especially in professions involving children. Beyond that, cities impose their own ordinances regarding activities banned from sex offenders. In Orange County, sex offenders are banned from surfing at the Huntington Beach pier, fishing in Dana Point harbor, and accessing public parks in Mission Viejo. In Ventura suburb Simi Valley, an ordinance has been established prohibiting sex offenders from decorating their homes and giving away candy on Halloween.
With all the public restrictions in place, the best pastime for a convicted sex offender would now appear to be staying at home to use the internet. But a Louisiana lawmaker, Jeff Thompson, has helped to enact a new law that is poised to restrict that activity as well. He is not agreeing to any interviews, but has made a statement that he hopes other states will adopt the law as well, citing that it is “another tool for prosecutors.”
The controversial, new law that took effect this summer would require convicted sex offenders to list their crimes on their social media account profile, along with their physical description and street address, but many social media sites prohibit sex offenders from joining these sites at all, so advertising their crimes on their profile will likely suspend their registration. The social media site Facebook already works with police to check offender databases against user registrations and takes appropriate action when a match is located.
The new law may be moot: statistics indicate that sex offenders don’t usually target people on social media. If an individual commits a sex crime, it is usually against someone that the criminal already knows and who lives nearby.
University of Michigan law professor J.J. Prescott says that the duties of sex offender registration and prohibitions are also having an unwanted effect of causing recidivism—the act of a person repeating the undesirable behavior as a result of negative consequences. Since movement and participation in society is restricted, there is a disincentive for a sex offender to invest in the society around him or her.
If you or a loved one are charged with a sex crime or will be forced to register as a sex offender in Orange County, you need a criminal defense attorney that will work with prosecutors and district attorneys to get your case reduced or dismissed to prevent negative societal consequences. Contact Orange County criminal attorney Staycie R. Sena immediately for a free consultation at (949) 477-8088.