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Appeal court ruling says county sex offender ban unconstitutional

Being convicted of any sex offense in California has some serious consequences under the best of circumstances. For sex offenders living in Orange County, those consequences have been much more serious. That, however, might be changing thanks to a ruling by a panel of California appeal court judges.

The recent ruling pertains to a man who was convicted in 2010 of misdemeanor sexual battery. In 2011, the man went to a company picnic at Mile Square Regional Park. Because of that event, the man was convicted of violating an Orange County ordinance that states sex offenders can't visit parks or beaches in the county without obtaining written permission from the sheriff's office. That conviction was overturned in 2012 by an Orange County Superior Court appeal panel, so the sheriff's department hasn't been enforcing the ordinance recently.

The state law says that sex offender parolees who were convicted of crimes against children under 14 years old are banned from going to parks. The 4th District Court of Appeals panel ruled that the state rule trumps the county ordinance. In the ruling, the panel says the state already has laws set up that govern the daily life of a sex offender. It says the county ordinance is unconstitutional, in part because the requirement for obtaining written permission from the sheriff is a "de facto registration requirement" that isn't in line with state sex offender registration requirements.

The Orange County District Attorney's office argues that local jurisdictions have the right to protect children from sex offenders. It hasn't yet decided if it will appeal the ruling.

For anyone who is facing sex charges, the consequences of a conviction can be very serious and potentially life altering. Having a solid defense is one of the best ways to ensure that the potential consequences are kept to a minimum as much as possible in the event of a conviction.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Court rules state law overrides O.C. restrictions on sex offenders" Abby Sewell, Jan. 10, 2014

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