A lawsuit has been filed challenging a provision of the California Tiered Registry Law that assigns individuals convicted of similar offenses to two different tiers. Specifically, the law assigns individuals convicted of Penal Code 288(a) to Tier 2, which requires a minimum of 20 years registration, and yet assigns individuals convicted of Penal Code 288(c) to Tier 3, which requires lifetime registration.
“The only difference between these two offenses is the age of the victim,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “And the current language of the law punishes individuals whose victims are older more harshly than individuals whose victims are younger. This makes no sense and is a violation of the equal protection clause in the state constitution.”
The plaintiff in the lawsuit is a 79-year-old man who was convicted of Penal Code 288(c) more than 20 years ago and has been assigned to Tier 3. If the same man was convicted of Penal Code 288(a), he would have been assigned to Tier 2. The defendants in the case are the California Department of Justice and Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
According to the lawsuit, there are additional provisions in the Tiered Registry Law that also punish more severely individuals convicted of less severe offense such as misdemeanor sexual battery (Penal Code 243.4(e)) and possession of child pornography (PC 311.11(a)). Additional lawsuits are expected to be filed in the future to address those provisions.
This lawsuit was filed in Sacramento Superior Court and the final decision in the case could affect registrants throughout the state of California. It is believed to be the first lawsuit filed challenging a provision of the Tiered Registry Law.