ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.—Orange County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a law prohibiting individuals on the state’s sex offender registry from entering designated parks, harbor areas and beaches in the county unless they have first received permission. It is the first law of its kind in the state, which previously had mandated where sex offenders could live but not where they could go.
Despite the unanimous vote, critics of the new law say it is overly broad and targets all individuals required to register as sex offenders. Franklin Zimring, a UC Berkeley law professor, told the Los Angeles Times that the law was misdirected because the vast majority of sex crimes against minors are committed not by strangers but by family members or acquaintances.
“It’s trying to solve a problem nobody knows exists,” he said.
The new law reads, “Any person required to register pursuant to California Penal Code sections 290, et seq., who enters into or upon any Orange County Park where children regularly gather without written permission from the Orange County Sheriff or Sheriff’s designee is guilty of a misdemeanor. Each entry into any such area, regardless of the time period between entries, shall constitute a separate offense under this ordinance.”
A quick perusal of the relevant sections under California Penal Code 290 indicates that just about any offense that would require a person to register as a sex offender will trigger the new law.
Section 290.006 is such one example. It reads, “Any person ordered by any court to register pursuant to the Act for any offense not included specifically in subdivision (c) of Section 290, shall so register, if the court finds at the time of conviction or sentencing that the person committed the offense as a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification. The court shall state on the record the reasons for its findings and the reasons for requiring registration.”
Punishment for a violation of this section is, as follows:
(1) Upon a first conviction, by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than six months, or by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), or by both imprisonment and a fine.
(2) Upon a second conviction, by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not less than ten (10) days and not more than six months, or by both imprisonment and a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500). Upon a second conviction, however, the person shall not be released on probation, parole, or any other basis until he or she has served not less than ten (10) days.
(3) Upon a third or subsequent conviction, by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not less than ninety (90) days and not more than six months, or by both imprisonment and a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500). Upon a third or subsequent conviction, however, the person shall not be released on probation, parole, or any other basis until he or she has served not less than ninety (90) days.
Designated places where sex offenders may not go include:
Orange County Park. For purposes of this ordinance, an Orange County Park is defined as any county-owned, leased, operated or maintained land before or after the effective date of this ordinance by the County of Orange held as a harbor, beach, park or recreation area, including but not limited to, Arroyo Trabuco Park, Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Clark Regional Park, Craig Regional Park, Featherly Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park, O’Neill Regional Park, Orange County Zoo, Peters Canyon Regional Park, Santiago Regional Park, Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, Yorba Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Caspers Wilderness Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park, Talbert Nature Preserve, Aliso Beach Park, Capistrano Beach Park, Newport Harbor, Salt Creek Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Dana Point Harbor, and Sunset Harbour.
The law will go into effect in 30 days.
The text of the law can be read here.