California court says sex offender residency rules 'additional punishment'

[JURIST] The California Court of Appeals [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that the residency requirements associated with Proposition 83 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] amount to additional punishment for sex offenders [JURIST news archive]. Proposition 83, or Jessica's Law, prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school or park where children regularly gather. The court did not intend to challenge the legitimacy of Jessica's Law, but it ruled that because residency requirements are an additional punishment beyond the prescribed statutory maximum, defendants have a right to a jury trial. The court stated:

Jessica’s Law survives this opinion untouched. We note only that its residency restriction increases the penalty for the underlying offense beyond the statutory maximum, and so the facts supporting sex offender registration must be found beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury. Imposing a residency restriction based on judicial factfinding violates the right to a jury trial as construed by the United States Supreme Court.
Californians voted in favor of Proposition 83 in November 2006. The law faced an immediate legal challenge [JURIST report] from unidentified registered sex offenders, and a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] to prevent the enforcement of the law's residency requirements, pending a ruling on the merits. In February 2007, a federal district judge barred the law [JURIST report] from applying retroactively. By September 2007 the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [official website] had notified [JURIST report] the 2,741 paroled sex offenders in the state that they were required to move under the Proposition 83 requirements.

 

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