January 21, 2014 By Stephen Klarich

On Jan. 10, 2014, an Orange County ordinance banning all registered sex offenders from county parks was struck down by the California Court of Appeals. The law had been challenged as being in conflict with existing state laws and therefore constitutionally void. In a related but separate opinion, The Court of Appeals also ruled against the City of Irvine’s similar ordinance.

What Brought This Issue to the Court of Appeal?

Orange County sex offender restrictions were struck down by the court of appeal.
On January 10, 2014, the court of appeal struck down the Orange County sex offender restrictions banning sex offenders from public parks and beaches.

Hugo Godinez was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery in 2010, which resulted in his lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender.

On Cinco de Mayo 2011, the day the ordinance went into effect, Godinez entered Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley to attend a mandatory company picnic. He was subsequently convicted of a misdemeanor in violation of the county ordinance.

The decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal reverses his conviction for being in the park. “Godinez argues state law preempts the county ordinance and therefore his conviction is void. We agree,” the Court declared, adding that the state Legislature has already enacted a “comprehensive statutory scheme regulating the daily life of sex offenders.”

Entrance into a county park was prohibited unless the registrant received prior written approval from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which denied all but one request while the ordinance was in effect. The appeals court also decided that requirement amounts to a “de facto registration requirement” that conflicts with the state’s existing sex offender registration requirements.

Godinez’s conviction was initially overturned in November 2012, when a panel of superior court judges in Orange County revoked his misdemeanor conviction for violating the ordinance. The Orange County District Attorney immediately sought review of that decision in the Court of Appeal. Since then, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens had stopped enforcing the law.

Background on Orange County Sex Offender Restrictions in Parks

In April 2011, Orange County passed one of California’s most aggressive local laws restricting where a registered sex offender could be physically present.

Orange County Ordinance No. 11-012 made it a misdemeanor crime for anyone required to register pursuant to California’s Sex Offender Registration Act (Penal Code Section 290) to unlawfully enter a county park without the sheriff’s prior written permission. The Orange County ordinance included numerous parks and hiking areas, as well as harbors, beaches, the Orange County Zoo and other recreational areas deemed to be frequented by children.

If convicted of violating the local law, a registered sex offender could have been sentenced to serve up to six-months in jail and/or ordered to pay a maximum $500 fine.

At the urging of Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackaukas, 15 Orange County cities also passed a similar version of the county ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from entering city parks and other public places.

What was the Reason for the Ordinance?

The purpose and intent of the ordinance was to protect children from registered sex offenders by restricting sex offenders’ access to locations where children regularly gather. It was intended to reduce the risk of harm to children by restricting the ability of sex offenders to be in contact with children.

However, the County Board of Supervisors did not rely on any competent evidence that children were being harmed by sex offenders in public places when it voted unanimously to approve the restrictions. Furthermore, not all persons required to register had sexually assaulted a child.

What’s Next?

The Orange County D.A. may appeal the rulings to the California Supreme Court. However, unless that happens and the Supreme Court issues a contrary opinion, local laws in many other California cities and counties prohibiting a sex offender’s presence in certain public places may face costly constitutional challenges unless they are repealed.

What Wallin & Klarich Thinks

Protecting children from sexual abuse should be a public policy priority. However, the Orange County sex offender restrictions do not seem to be accomplishing this goal.

On the contrary, these restrictions appear to create a false sense of security and could be counterproductive to public safety. Increasingly tighter restrictions on registered sex offenders can lead to their further isolation, leaving them susceptible to emotional triggers that could cause their re-offense.

Funding public policy measures aimed at preventing sexual abuse before it happens would be a much wiser investment of limited taxpayer money.

Call the Sex Crimes Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you are being with charged with a sex crime, your whole life can change. But it doesn’t have to. The skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending persons accused of sex crimes. If you have been convicted of a sex crime and ordered to register as a sex offender, we can help you end that duty.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorney near you no matter where you are located.

Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

1 comment

  1. The real issue is parents need to attend to their children. These laws have no historical justification. Has there been ANY record of registered sex offenders attacking children in parks or beaches? No? Then why have the law? The police and sheriff’s departments are obviously doing a great job, as are the parole and probation departments. After these people go through probation, therapy and time served they only wish to live productive lives with their families. These ever increasing punitive measures are fear based and serves only to cause harm to a group that politician’s now use as their new whipping boy for votes. Registrants have a re-offense rate of only 1.9% according to the latest Department of Justice report. Why do we even have a registry? Isn’t it the probation/parole department’s job to ensuring they’re safe for society? If someone is so bad to have to be put on some online hit-list then why are they even amongst us? What the DA is saying is that a registered citizen can’t be in a public place (parks and Beaches) with their own children. About that waiver from the sheriff’s department…Why would a law ENFORCEMENT agency give-out passes to break the law? Really?!? I saved my son’s life twice because I was there to do so but the DA would have a registrant’s child be without their parent and put in harms way. That ladies and gentlemen is a violation of their parental rights and their child’s safety. Where are we in pre-1945 Germany? This is NOT freedom people, it’s tyranny. That breaks not just natural law (like a mother bear’s right to be with her cubs), but both spiritual law (God made them parents not Tony) and constitutional law. Could even be considered a human rights violation. The DA started down this path and it seems right on the surface. Who’s not out to protect children, but the facts and dangers don’t support this. Look they say if it saves just one child it is worth it. Then we need to stop children from riding in cars and on airplanes because they are known to crash. I mean after-all if it saves just one child. Proverbs 16:25 states there is a way to a man that seems right but the end thereof is the ways of death. The sex offender registry is a LIVING DEATH, It is Evil and it is Wrong. To stand against it and these kind of laws is to stand with redemption and against tyranny. It will not be popular but in the end to stand against such will be what really matters. Truth (light) is a funny thing. When it (truth/light) is rejected. Where does that leave us? In the dark! On this issue our leaders are in the dark because of a popular wrong. Should we follow them into the ditch or hold the light of truth even higher for more people to see so truth and righteous judgement eventually comes. The real enemy in our society is the Them verses Us mentally. There is no THEM it’s really only US. We ladies and gentlemen are in this together. TRUTH

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Confidential Consult
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

SCHEDULE YOUR free consultation

If you or a loved one have been accused of a sex crime, this is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.