Under Megan’s Law in California, the name, address and information of most sex offenders is published on the Megan’s Law website for anyone to see. Many people know about this law, but it is lesser known that sex offenders also have to disclose their email addresses, screen names and other electronic information to authorities.
However, this obtrusive requirement could soon be changed dramatically.
Changing Internet Reporting Laws for California Sex Offenders
Under Proposition 35, a voter initiative that was passed in 2012, convicted sex offenders in California have to turn over their email addresses, screen names and online identifying information to authorities. Senate Bill 448 could change this.
This proposed change in law would make it so that you do not have to report your online information unless you actually used the internet in furtherance of your crime. This only applies to those who gathered private information on their victim, to traffic their victim, or used the internet to distribute or collect child pornography or other obscene material.
Under this proposed law, if your crime involved the internet and you are required to report your online identifying information, this information could only be used by law enforcement when investigating sex crimes, kidnapping and human trafficking. Even in these instances, all information would be kept private unless there is a court order to make the information public.
The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.
Those who fail to report their online identifiers could be convicted of a misdemeanor and face punishment of up to six months in jail.
Why Change the Law?
In 2014, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that requiring sex offenders to hand over internet screen names and email information violated their free speech rights. The court gave California time to change their laws in accordance with this ruling.
As a way to adhere to the court ruling, lawmakers are moving toward passing Senate Bill 448. The proposed law passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee by a 7-0 vote and will now be sent to the California State Assembly.
According to the bill’s author, California State Senator Ben Hueso, the proposed law strikes a balance between protecting the public and preserving the free speech rights of sex offenders.
However, attorney and California Reform Sex Offender Laws president Janice Bellucci believes the change in law would still violate the right to anonymous speech and it should not require juvenile offenders to turn over their online information.
What do you think about this proposed change in law? Do you think sex offenders should have to turn over their online identifiers to authorities or does this law violate free speech rights?
Contact the Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or a loved one is facing charges for a sex offense, it is important that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our sex crimes defense attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending the rights of those accused of sex crimes in California.
With offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Torrance, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich available near you no matter where you are located.
Call us now at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.