June 13, 2022 By Stephen Klarich

California’s Castration Law for Sex Offenders (PC Section 645) 

Chemical Castration for Sex Offenders 

Several states, including California, Florida, Texas, and Alabama, permit the use of chemical castration for sex offenders. Chemical castration involves the injection of the sex offender with Depo Provera, an FDA-approved birth control drug that lowers testosterone levels and hence reduces the sex drive of male sex offenders. This treatment is thought to work best on sex offenders who have uncontrollable desires that manifest as sexual actions. Although this approach may seem radical, supporters believe that it is the only way to guarantee public safety against sex offenders who aren’t in custody. The effects of the drug are reversible and do not cause any permanent changes to the body. 

California’s Approach 

California often imposes stricter criminal penalties that other states, including penalties regarding sex crimes. In fact, California was the first state to legalize the practice of chemical castration for sex offenders in 1996. Currently, California mandates these injections for repeat sex offenders and provides discretionary injections for first-time offenders. Under California Penal Code Section 645, any person guilty of a second conviction of a sex crime against a victim under 13 years of age must, upon parole, undergo medroxyprogesterone acetate treatment. The law generally applies to offenders who used force in committing the act. The section furthers that the parolee must begin medroxyprogesterone acetate treatment one week prior to his release from confinement in the state prison and must continue treatments until the Department of Corrections demonstrates to the Board of Prison Terms that this treatment is no longer necessary. Offenders do have the option of voluntarily undergoing a permanent, surgical alternative rather than the hormonal chemical treatment. Otherwise, repeat sex offenders face indefinite incarceration. 

Criticism of Castration for Sex Offenders 

The chemical castration law has rendered its fair share of critics. Many believe that chemical castration is classified as cruel and unusual punishment, which violates constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment. Although most changes caused by chemical castration only last so long as the sex offender continues to take the drug, these drugs can have side effects beyond reducing sex drive. For example, users of the birth control drug have reported increased body fat, larger than normal male breasts, and reduced bone density. Some of these side effects, such as decreased bone density, are irreversible and can lead to serious illnesses like cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the drug contains hormones that could cause personality changes and depression.

California's Castration Law for Sex Offenders

Another criticism stems from the effectiveness of both chemical and surgical castration. Even though castration reduces sex drive, offenders may still retain some sexual function. Other drugs that boost testosterone are also widely available and can counteract the effects of chemical castration. As such, many of these individuals continue to re-offend even after castration. Unfortunately, those who are falsely convicted of a sex crime also have to contend with these harsh punishments. Despite the limited risk since California’s law requires repeat offenses, it is not unheard of, especially as judges and juries are likely to err on the side of the child victim. 

Even with its critics, it is likely that the chemical castration law in California will remain in place to safeguard the public against repeat sex offenders. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you are charged with a repeat sex crime and want to avoid chemical castration, you need an experienced defense team to represent you. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients with sex-related crimes, and we can help you, too. We know that these can be tough cases, but we always keep your best interests in mind. Because sex-related crimes can be difficult to talk about, we make sure to maintain a comfortable and judgment-free environment for open, honest discussions. You can place your trust in us. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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