By Ventura Criminal Defense Lawyer
Those convicted of sex crimes have long been a straw man for elected officials looking to bolster their political clout. Every time a politician wishes to appear “tough on crime,” one of the easiest avenues is pushing new sex offender legislation through the California House and Senate.
But, while new sex offender regulations may be popular with the public, they are not always good policy, often hampering the livelihoods of individuals who would have otherwise simply paid their debt to society and moved on to be productive citizens. The latest piece of sex offender legislation to hit California is the bill SB57 (PDF), and it could mean beefed up penalties for sex offenders who are found to have removed or disabled court-ordered tracking devices.
Up to three years in prison for California sex offenders who tamper with GPS
Under the auspices of SB57, paroled sex offenders who cut off or otherwise tamper with a GPS ankle bracelet would be penalized with up to six months in the county jail for a first offense. Tinkering with a GPS tracker a second time could land sex offenders in jail for a year. Running afoul of SB57 for a third time would be a felony for which sex offender parolees could be returned to prison for as long as three years.
“This bill imposes a strong deterrent,” Senator Ted Lieu, the author of the bill, announced to his colleagues moments before the California Senate passed SB57 with a unanimous vote, according to the L.A. Times.
But is more prison and jail time really the solution lawmakers have been looking for? Thousands of sex offenders are now being released to county authorities for supervision pursuant to a recent federal court ruling that required California to do something about its burgeoning overcrowding problems in state prisons.
Yet, the jails in many California counties are already brimming beyond capacity, leading counties to filter more offenders into home supervision programs. Simply returning more sex offenders to jail or prison for nonviolent offenses is a circular action that would exacerbate the problem home monitoring was designed to alleviate.
SB57 is not law yet, and it will next move to the California Assembly for consideration. However, considering its momentum in the Senate, the bill will likely face little significant opposition in the other chamber of the California legislature.
If sex crime allegations have been levied against you, call a California defense attorney
SB57 is not aimed at anyone who tampers with a GPS monitoring device; it singles out sex offenders for heightened punishments. The new bill is not unique in imposing draconian punishments for sex offenders even for nonviolent crimes committed after release from prison.
If you have been accused of a sex crime in California, there is no doubt that you are facing a battle that will literally impact the rest of your life. Once convicted of a sex crime, collateral consequences like the enhanced punishments of SB57 will follow you to the end of your days.
Even so, you have rights, and a strong legal defense can be an effective way to negate the worst repercussions of a sex crime charge. Talk to a California criminal defense attorney to learn more about fighting sex crime allegations.