The California Supreme Court today, in a vote of 5 to 2, overturned a prior court decision (People v. Hofsheier (2006) 37 Cal.4th 1185) that provided relief in the recent past to many individuals convicted of oral copulation. In the decision, the court found that there is a “rational basis” for providing harsher penalties to such as an individual as compared to other individuals who convicted of unlawful intercourse.
“Today’s decision by the California Supreme Court has the potential to harm hundreds if not thousands of individuals without increasing public safety,” stated California RSOL President Janice Bellucci. “It is yet another blow to the state and federal constitutions.”
The Court’s decision relied, in part, upon “legitimate purposes of sex offender registration” as well as legislative concerns. According to the Court, the legitimate purposes of registration are deterrence, preventing recidivism and protecting the public. The legislative concerns cited included stigmatization of a person that “might interfere with employment opportunities and the support of children conceived as a result of unlawful intercourse.”
According to the Court, today’s decision is retroactive and will apply to an unknown number of individuals whose requirement to register as a sex offender was previously terminated.
In a sharply worded dissent. Justice Werdegar noted that the government “acknowledge(s) that some form of notice will be necessary before a person, who after Hofsheier, was not required to register or who successfully petitioned for relief from mandatory registration could be convicted of the willful failure to register.” She added that the majority opinion of the Court “reinstitutes a scheme that had a disproportionately adverse effect on gay and lesbian youth and unnecessarily saddled nonpredatory offenders of either sexual orientation with the stigma and restricted liberties attendant on sex offender registration.” Justice Liu concurred with this dissent.
California Supreme Court sex-crime ruling criticized as unfair to gays – LA Times
Another rehearing alert: 5-2 Supreme Court overrules sex offender registration precedent
CA High Court Reverses Itself on Sex Offender Registration – Courthouse News Service