California Courts Lift Housing Ban on Registered Sex Offenders
One of the more difficult problems that registered sex offenders face is finding suitable housing. Under “Jessica’s Law,” registered sex offenders were prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. However, a recent court ruling could pave the way to changes in this law.
“No Rational Relationship”
In March 2015, the California Supreme Court heard a challenge brought by four registered sex offenders in San Diego regarding their ability to find adequate housing. All four were homeless: two lived in an alley behind the parole office, one lived in the San Diego riverbed, and another lived in his van.
The court agreed that the housing restrictions were unconstitutional. The court upheld the Fourth Appellate District Court’s ruling that the law was constitutionally flawed because the way it had been applied denied parole officers the opportunity to review on a case-by-case basis whether a particular sex offender would pose a threat to children if housed within 2,000 feet of a school or park.1
A Thin Stroke Against a Broad Sweep
The scope of the registry is broad, lumping together violent and non-violent offenders covering a vast range of offenses from public urination to child molestation. Meanwhile, housing restrictions prevented registered sex offenders from living in nearly 97 percent of available housing in San Diego County.2
The court ruling only applied to San Diego County. However, in response to the ruling, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has changed its statewide policy to restrict all registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. Instead, housing restrictions will only apply to those who committed crimes against children. This will affect an estimated 76 percent of registered sex offenders. State officials believe that the policy change will keep the law constitutional and will better serve the public by focusing on those people who have a history of committing crimes against children.3
Removal from the Registry
If you have been convicted of a crime that requires you to register as a sex offender, there are a couple ways in which you can seek relief from registration. You can:
- Apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation; or
- Apply for a pardon.
A Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court order that serves as a declaration that, in the court’s opinion, you are completely rehabilitated of the crime for which you were convicted. It is a statement by the court that you are ready to become a productive and upstanding member of society.
A pardon is a declaration from the Governor of California (or the President of the United States for a federal conviction) that forgives you for past crimes, and that removes many of the effects of your conviction. Generally, this includes the termination of an active sentence or probation, immediate release from custody, and the restoration of rights, such as the right to vote or serve on a jury. Pardons can also be granted to persons who have already served the entirety of their sentence.
With either of these methods, there are a number of legal challenges to clearing your name. If you wish to try to remove your name from the sex offender registry, you should speak with a knowledgeable defense attorney who has experience in guiding others through the process of obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation or a pardon.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Do not let your criminal history stand between you and your dreams. If you were convicted of a sex offense and are interested in finding out if you are eligible to clean your record, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled team of attorneys has been successfully fighting for our clients’ rights for over 30 years.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ventura, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. See, In re Taylor, 290 P.3d 1171 (Cal. 2013) href=”#ref1″>↩
2. [Lorraine Bailey, “San Diego Sex Offenders Upset Residency Limit,” Courthouse News Service, September 14, 2012, available at http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/09/14/50302.htm. href=”#ref2″>↩
3. Don Thompson, “Most California sex offender parolees exempt from housing restrictions,” San Jose Mercury News, December 15, 2015, available at http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_29249349/most-california-sex-offender-parolees-exempt-from-housing href=”#ref3″>↩