Thursday, August 3, 2017
C.A. Approves Lifetime Sex Registration for Minors
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Imposing a lifetime sex offender registration requirement on a minor, found to be a ward of the court based on commission of sodomy, is not cruel and unusual punishment, the Third District Court of Appeal held yesterday, declaring that the purpose is not punitive.
Justice Elana J. Duarte wrote:
Both the United States Supreme Court and our Supreme Court have held that mandatory lifetime sex registration is not cruel and unusual punishment. The high courts have not confined these rulings to adults, but instead have spoken without regard to the age of the registrant. Because the record in this case does not compel a conclusion that minors necessarily have recidivism rates lower than adults, or that any difference in rates would undermine the legislative findings supporting lifelong registration, we are not persuaded this clear and controlling precedent can be deemed inapplicable to minors.
Penal Code Section
The lifetime registration requirement was imposed on a youthful offender, identified in the opinion as “J.C.,” pursuant to Penal Code §290.008 (a), which provides:
“Any person who, on or after January 1, 1986, is discharged or paroled from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to the custody of which he or she was committed after having been adjudicated a ward of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code because of the commission or attempted commission of any offense described in subdivision (c) shall register in accordance with the Act.”
Subdivision (c) includes sodomy. It was that offense that J.C. committed, at age 12, on a 5-year-old.
The “Act” referred to is the Sex Offender Registration Act.
J.C. was routed to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Facilities after other instances of inappropriate behavior.
‘Children Are Different’
In a published portion of the opinion, his contentions that “children are different,” that juvenile offenders have a lower recidivism rate than adult criminals, and that minors should not be subjected to the same sex offender registration requirement.
“J.C. has not established that juvenile offenders have lower recidivism rates,” Duarte responded. “His own record of multiple offenses is not particularly supportive of this claim.”
“That children are less culpable and more capable of change than adults is relevant in determining whether the harshest punishment is appropriate, but it does not establish that sex offender registration is punishment, let alone that it is one of the harshest.”
Megan’s Law Website
The jurist rejected J.C.’s assertion that he “could be” identified as a sex offender on the Megan’s Law website. She said:
“Registration pursuant to section 290.008 applies only to those ‘adjudicated a ward of the juvenile court,’ not to those convicted of crimes. The Attorney General’s office has interpreted the law not to apply to juveniles, stating on the Megan’s Law website: ‘By law, juveniles are not displayed on the Megan’s Law website.’ ”
Duarte pointed out in a footnote that up until Jan. 1, 1995, juvenile sex offenders were required to register annually only until they reached the age of 25.
The case is In re J.C., 19 S.O.S. 3868.
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