The Flaws In America's Sex Offender Registry

For ten years, my family and I lived close to the small town that Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped from almost eighteen years ago, by Philip Garrido, a convicted sex offender whose name and location were listed on the Sex Offender Registry.

For eighteen years, Mr. Garrido kept Jaycee in a serious of outhouses and tent-like structures set up in his own backyard. The extreme nature of this case, along with intense public and media scrutiny towards law enforcement's handling of Mr. Garrido's sex offender status have brought the flaws in our Sex Offender Registry front and center, and under the glaring light of the American people.

The fact that Philip Garrido was a known and previously convicted sex offender, and the fact that he was on the Sex Offender Registry, even with all the current laws that America has passed in an effort to "feel safe", did not do anything to prevent him from committing this heinous crime on a then, eleven year old girl. This in itself begs the question, "Have America's Sex Offender laws done all they could to keep us safe?"

Of course part of the responsibility lies with the individuals in law enforcement who did not, when offered the opportunities, check any further than Mr. Garrido's front porch. As the saying goes, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link".

However, all things considered, the argument holds that with so many "fattening the rolls" of the Registry, law enforcement is simply stretched too thin to be able to effectively monitor these individuals properly in the first place.

As of 2010, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has reported that there are 92,000 sex offenders in California, statewide. The number is shocking, however, once the general public realizes that the total sum does not equal violent rapists, and predatory child molesters, they then begin to question who really makes up these rolls then?

Young people who would fall under the "Romeo and Juliet" Law make up an increasing number of new sex offenders each year. In the United States, it is estimated that 30% of the total Registry are young people, "Romeo-and-Juliet's" convicted of underage sexual relations during the course of loving relationships.

Besides those, an increasing amount of young people are being registered for the relatively new crime of "Sexting" (sending "suggestive" texts or pics by cell phone). The question being, who decides what exactly defines "suggestive"? Suggestive by whose standards? Herein lies the problem. As there is no clear-cut definition written into the law, it is left greatly open to interpretation.

Lastly, there are people on the Registry who have urintated off of their own balconies, or in their own backyards, as well as nude sunbathers, and "streakers". Now, certainly no one wants to watch a neighbor urinating over the back fence, but then again, in his own backyard is it truly a crime? And even if it is, are these folks just as deserving of registration as one who has horrifically maimed and violated another human being?

Knowing the facts gives one an educated outlook on the Registry, and exposes its flaws in a glaring light. How can law enforcement be expected to monitor and enforce these laws on people like Philip Garrido, when the rolls are clogged with folks who have no history of violent acts or criminal intent? Those who pose NO danger to society whatsoever as a "predator".

We, as a nation, need to clean up our Sex Offender Registry, ensuring that our resources (monetary as well as enforcement) are not run-down and depleted by defining just anyone and everyone as a "sex offender". We need to get back to basics, redefine the laws, and focus on the select groups of violent and predatory offenders. These are the offenders we need to protect ourselves from. These are the folks that law enforcement should be monitoring. The young boyfriend convicted of intimately loving his young girlfriend poses NO threat to his family, his neighbors, friends, nor the community at large.

Time to take a stand America, and right the injustices that we have created. Time to get back to a safe and sane United States.

Unlawful Sex With A Minor - What It Really Means

One of the most common misconceptions we have encountered in our studies, conversations, and networking around the country has been the mistaken idea that Unlawful Sex With A Minor charges apply only to those who have been involved in a relationship in which one partner was a minor, the other partner, an adult (over eighteen years old in California).

It is important to note that Unlawful Sex With A Minor charges include any circumstance in which both partners involved in "consensual" intimate relationships, have been minors, as well.

Many parents, as well as their young teens, were unaware that these charges existed, and were just as serious for two sixteen year olds (for example), or a fourteen and sixteen year old, or any combination of "teens" under the age of eighteen years old.

California law is clear on the fact that anyone under the age of eighteen years old is "incapable" of giving consent, making any intimate contact, even within the context of a loving, boyfriend/girlfriend (or boyfriend/boyfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend, as the case may be) relationship illegal.

Please see our "California Law Statutes" for the precise letter of the law. Educate yourselves, as well as your teens. While teen sexuality may seem a commonplace subject, and teen sexual activity may seem accepted, amongst teens, and in certain circles, "tolerated" to a degree by adults; these charges are extremely serious; their consequences, life altering.

What Is Needed To Convict ? Common Misconceptions

A common misconception amongst teens, as well as some adults, with regard to Romeo and Juliet cases, is that it must be either the underage minor in the relationship or his/her parents that "press charges" in the case.

The truth is that only the District Attorney can actually bring charges against a person to make a case. However, the actual information, or initial "tip" can be passed along to the Police Department by ANYONE.

Countless cases have been charged and prosecuted despite the fact that the minor in question and his/her parents:

-had known of the relationship

-had acknowledged it was consensual in nature

- had actually objected to charges being brought.

Whether or not the other parties object to the bringing of charges is of no consequence, as once it has been reported to the police (and the District Attorney has determined there is enough evidence to bring charges) it becomes the complaint of the state, and is out of the hands of the citizens for good.

While there are mandated reporters; teachers, counselors, doctors, nurses, and daycare providers among them, whose duty it is to report anything of this nature to police, absolutely ANYONE can make a report regarding Sex With A Minor charges.

It is important to note that once charges have been brought, there are only 3 things needed to convict:

1. The "victim's" (legal terminology) initial statement.

2. The "responsibility of assumption" of the "victim's" age by
the defendant.

3. The "victim's" testimony.

Another common misconception is that there must be physical evidence to convict.

Many people assume there must be identifiable DNA (such as a "rape kit", a pregnancy, or other means of identification, such as a shared STD).

However, unlike murder, unlike just about every other type of crime, this "crime" requires absolutely NO physical evidence to convict.

Add to that the Statute of Limitations for "Statutory Rape" and related charges, being up to 3 years in California, and perhaps a picture is beginning to form of just how easily charges can be brought in these Romeo and Juliet cases.

We urge you to read the California Penal Code, as well as the Statutes relevant to these charges for yourself.

Take the time to speak with and educate your teens about the seriousness of these charges, the possible ramifications they may have on their lives, and how relatively easily these charges can be brought.

Each family teaches their own ethics, their own morality, with regards to their teenagers becoming sexually active. But until we can incorporate the facts and fundamentals of teen-related California Sex Crime Law into our student's Sexual Education classes, where we can ensure the broad spectrum of our youth will absolutely be informed; it is our duty as parents and educators to do so.

With the proposed Romeo and Juliet Law for California, we hope to bring a voice of reason to our Sex Crime laws.

We want to save our teens and young adults from mandatory prison sentencing, mandatory lifetime sex offender registration, possible "aversion" therapy, possible lifetime mandatory GPS tracking, and any and all other punishments that were originally created and meant for violent and predatory sex offenses, primarily against children.

Please join us by reading the materials here, sharing with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and signing our petition!

We need to make the California Romeo and Juliet Law a reality, for the sake of all our young people!

California For Romeo and Juliet Law
Awareness-Advocacy-Change

Unlawful Sex With A Minor Vs. Lewd And Lascivious Conduct - the Differences

Under California law, there are two separate categories that one may be charged in with regard to Romeo and Juliet scenarios.

The first is "Unlawful Sex With A Minor" (formerly known as "Statutory Rape").

The second is the far more serious of the two, "Lewd and Lascivious Conduct".

These are the two main categories from which other charges (such as "Oral Copulation" or "Sexual Battery") may stem.

Although the general subject matter is similar, the distinct definitions, circumstances, and consequences are vastly different.

UNLAWFUL SEX WITH A MINOR (formerly known as "Statutory Rape"):


Unlawful Sex With A Minor charges are the less serious of the two. The basic definition involves an act of engaging in sexual intercourse with a person below the legal age of consent, but above the age of a child (usually determined to be 14 years of age).


An Unlawful Sex With A Minor case can be charged as either a misdemeanor, or a felony. In legal terms, this is what is known as a "wobbler", and largely depends on the age of the minor involved as to how it will be charged.


With a minor not more than 3 years older or 3 years younger than the accused:

MISDEMEANOR/ Up to 1 year in County Jail/ $1000 in fines.

With a minor more than 3 years younger:

MISDEMEANOR or FELONY/ 1 year in County Jail or State Prison/ $1000-$10,000 in fines.

When the accused is 21 years of age and minor is 16 years of age or younger:

MISDEMEANOR or FELONY/ 1 year in County Jail OR 2,3, or 4 years in State Prison / $1000-$10,000 in fines.


"Consent" is not a defense to these charges, as California law deems that anyone under 18 years of age (a minor) is incapable of giving consent.


All of these convictions require probation/parole.


Unlike the more serious Lewd and Lascivious charges, Unlawful Sex With A Minor DOES have a provision that says if one honestly and reasonably believed that the alleged "victim" was over the age of 18 at the time, one CANNOT be convicted under this law.

The three requirements to prove this are:

Statements made by the "victim" that he/she was over 18 years of age.

General appearance or attire of "victim"(leading one to believe they were older).

Where the accused met the "victim" (as in an adult venue, such as an 18 and over club, or at an adult party).

However, these requirements, in many cases, are hard to prove.


If convicted of Unlawful Sex With A Minor in California, the law does NOT require Sex Offender Registration.


LEWD AND LASCIVIOUS CONDUCT:


Lewd and Lascivious Conduct charges are by far the more serious of the two.

The main reason someone in a Romeo and Juliet case would be charged with Lewd and Lascivious Conduct RATHER than Unlawful Sex With A Minor, is the age, as well as the age difference, of and between the minor and the adult.


Lewd and Lascivious Conduct involves touching a minor anywhere on the body (even on the outside of the clothing) "with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions or sexual desires of either party".

Each independent act (each touch to different parts of the body, whether they are sexual parts or not) is counted as an "act", or a "count". This means that even if there were only one occasion, or one "incident", several "acts" could be charged.


Sexual Intercourse is not required to be charged under this law.


A Lewd and Lascivious charge is always a Felony charge.

Involving a Minor, below 14 years old/ 3, 6, or 8 years in State Prison/$10,000 in fines.

Parole/Possible GPS tracking device/Possible psychotherapy or behavior modification.

Mandatory Lifetime Sex Offender Registration.

Mistaken belief in the minor's age is NOT a defense to this charge.

"Consent" is not a defense, as California law deems that anyone under the age of 18 years old (a minor), is incapable of giving consent.


Although the exact definition of this law varies from state to state, in California, Lewd and Lascivious Conduct can be comprised of many different charges.

Prostitution, pornography, indecent acts, indecent exposure and co-habitating with an unmarried partner in a sexual relationship (this one is rarely used any more), all fall under the Lewd and Lascivious law.

Validity of the Victim's Testimony Clause

We have recently received mail regarding the question of the validity of the "Victim's Testimony Clause".

The victim's testimony is one of three things needed to convict someone in California in an Underage Sex With A Minor, or Lewd and Lascivious Conduct case.

It happens quite frequently in cases that would fall under the Romeo and Juliet Law, were California to have one, that the "victim" will refuse to testify against their boyfriend or girlfriend. There is a clause in California law that prevents the victim having to testify if it is deemed that their participation in testimony would be detrimental to said victim.

However, it is not often that this clause is upheld. Any aggressive district attorney will subpoena the victim, or at least their testimony (whether or not it is in open court or by deposition). In these cases, the testimony must be given, and to do it by deposition bypasses the clause in that it is reasoned that behind closed doors it is somehow less detrimental or traumatic.

Therefore, it is almost unheard of that the victim's testimony will not be taken, in one form or another, whether the victim initially wishes to grant it to the court or not.

Sociable

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