March 6, 2006
California Supreme Court's constitutional concern with sex offender registration
With thank to How Appealing for the tip and this link to the opinion, I see that today the California Supreme Court ruled that the state's sex offender registration law has an equal protection problem. Here is the key conclusion of the opinion in People v. Hofsheier, No. S124636 (Cal. Mar 6, 2006):
We therefore conclude that the statutory distinction in section 290 requiring mandatory lifetime registration of all persons who, like defendant here, were convicted of voluntary oral copulation with a minor of the age of 16 or 17, but not of someone convicted of voluntary sexual intercourse with a minor of the same age, violates the equal protection clauses of the federal and state Constitutions. This conclusion does not preclude the Legislature from requiring lifetime registration both for persons convicted of voluntary oral copulation and for those convicted of voluntary sexual intercourse, thus treating both groups the same.
I will leave it to readers to explain to me whether this ruling should be considered a victory for "voluntary oral copulation" or a defeat for traditional "voluntary sexual intercourse."
UPDATE: How Appealing has the newspaper coverage of the Hofsheier ruling linked here.
March 6, 2006 at 01:30 PM | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference California Supreme Court's constitutional concern with sex offender registration:
I argue in my blog here: http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com/2006/03/equal-protection-as-new-8th-amendment.html that this case is much more of a bellwether than it seems, because its use of the 14th Amendment rational basis test, outside the quasi-suspect areas of sexual orientation or free speech, basically turns the cruel and unusual standard into a cruel or unusual standard, or alternately makes sentencing another "quasi-suspect area" in which rational basis review is not an automatic win for the questioned statute.
Posted by: ohwilleke | Mar 6, 2006 2:19:53 PM
It's a victory for those of us who like to remind others that legislators are not infallible.
(Investment banker and non-practicing attorney.)
Posted by: KipEsquire | Mar 6, 2006 3:53:59 PM
It is a victory for section California 290, subdivision (a)(2)(E)
(E) Any person ordered by any court to register pursuant to this section for any offense not included specifically in this section if the court finds at the time of conviction or sentencing that the person committed the offense as a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification. The court shall state on the record the reasons for its findings and the reasons for requiring registration.
The Cal Supremese ruled he could still be required to register under this section, as vague as it is. Given Blakley, can the judge find 290(a)(2)(E) or does a jury have to?
Posted by: G | Mar 7, 2006 1:35:09 PM