March 1, 2016 By Stephen Klarich

Assembly Bill 201 failed to gain the votes needed to make it out of committee in the California Legislature. The bill, which would have granted local governments the ability to adopt rules restricting where registered sex offenders can live or visit, will not be considered during the remainder of 2016.

The failure of the bill represents a victory in the fight for protecting the civil rights of sex offender registrants. While it may not mean an expansion of those rights, reform advocates are declaring it a serious win.1

Does Every City Need Its Own Sex Offender Laws? (Assembly Bill 201)

Following a number of high profile cases involving sex offenders in the late 2000s, city agencies began passing laws restricting where registered sex offenders could live or be present. These laws went further than the state-wide restrictions established by “Jessica’s Law,” which states that sex offenders cannot be within 2,000 feet of a school or park.2

The local restrictions did not exempt registered sex offenders who had committed their crimes in the distant past, nor did it distinguish between registrants who had committed sexually violent crimes from registrants who had other types of sex crimes.

Several lawsuits challenging these restrictions wound up before the Fourth District Court of Appeals. The court ruled that state laws governing restrictions and enforcement of registrants trump local ordinances, invalidating the restrictions passed by cities.3 When the California Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of those cases, it effectively affirmed this.

In response, California legislators drafted Assembly Bill 201, which would have given local agencies the ability to create their own residency restrictions on sex offenders. Many advocates of reforming sex offender laws saw this as a potential encroachment on the civil rights of registrants who are not a danger to their communities.

What’s Next for City Ordinances against Sex Offenders?

Assembly Bill 201 may have failed to make it out of committee, but that does not mean efforts to revive the bill will not begin in 2017. Further, the failing of the bill does nothing to change the fact that many sex offenders are continually discriminated against.

Major reforms to sex offender laws are still a long way away, but advocates vow to keep fighting. For the growing number of registrants unable to find work or housing who eventually become homeless, relief is still far out of reach.4

Share Your Thoughts with Us

Do you think that cities in California should be able to create their own laws regarding sex offenders? Does Jessica’s Law punish registered sex offenders too harshly by requiring them to be more than 2,000 feet away from schools and parks at all times? We want to hear your thoughts on this issue. Please join the discussion in the comments section below.

If you are a registered sex offender seeking relief from the registry, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today. Our sex crimes lawyers can go over any options you may have to seek relief from sex offender registration.

Call our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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