People in California who are convicted of a crime could face several additional ramifications after they complete their prison term and are on probation. In the past, Jessica’s Law placed severe residency restrictions against those convicted of sex crimes. The California Supreme Court has recently ruled that the enforcing all the restrictions against those convicted of such crimes, regardless of the individual circumstances of their cases, is unconstitutional.
The law was originally passed in 2006 by voters. It requires that those convicted of sex crimes live more than 2,000 feet from parks, schools and other areas where children might gather. While opponents say that the purpose of the law is to protect children, opponents say that it violates the constitutional rights of those convicted of such crimes.
A review shows that the restrictions prohibit those affected by the law from living in approximately 97 percent of multifamily residential rental properties. Of the remaining 3 percent of housing, many may not be available due to lack of vacancies or unwillingness of the owners to rent to sex offenders. As a result, the law is pushing many onto the streets because they cannot find housing that meet the requirements and may effectively be splitting families apart. Four convicted sex offenders in San Diego County challenged the law, and the California Supreme Court has ruled that its blanket enforcement is unconstitutional. The law itself was not struck down, but is now required to be enforced on a case-by-base basis.
The ruling is only applied to San Diego County at this time. However, additional cases are likely to be filed in California as people convicted of sex crimes across the state are likely experiencing similar issues securing housing after their release. Unfortunately, laws such as this make the ramifications of a conviction of such crimes serious and long lasting. An experienced attorney can help those charged examine the options available to them, allowing them to make an informed decision regarding their best course of action.
Source: CBS Sacramento, “Court Rules Against California Sex Offender Residency Law“, March 2, 2015