By Matt Coker
A federal lawsuit was filed today challenging a city of Orange ordinance that requires sex offenders to post signs on the front door of their residences on Halloween, according to a group trying to change such laws in California.
Reform Sex Offenders Law (RSOL) claims in its complaint that the ordinance violates the First Amendment (Wikipedia) of the U.S. Constitution and puts sex offenders and their family members at risk for physical and emotional harm.
The ordinance would also violate the Fourth Amendment (Wikipedia) protecting citizens from unreasonable seizures if sex offenders were jailed for violating it. Those who do not obey the Orange law are subject to fines up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail, according to RSOL.
The Orange City Attorney's office was closed as this post was published, so no comment could be received from those officials.
"The city of Orange is the only city in California that requires registered citizens to post a sign on the front door of their residence," says Janice Bellucci, a Santa Maria attorney and RSOL president, in a statement from the nonprofit. "A similar ordinance in the city of Simi Valley was successfully challenged in federal court last year."
The judge in that case issued a temporary restraining order two days before Halloween last year preventing Simi Valley from enforcing the ordinance on grounds that those required to post signs on their front doors would likely suffer irreparable harm. The case was subsequently settled.
There are about 100 residents in Orange that have been convicted of sex-related crimes--and now have their and their families' constitutional rights jeopardized, according to RSOL.
As for harm to children, Bellucci points to an October 2012 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation report that found the rate of re-offense by a person convicted of a sex-related crime while on parole is only 1.9 percent.
Her group reminds that the "wide range of offenses" that can have one labeled a sex offender include not just the perverted creeper ones that immediately spring to mind but public urination, sexting and possession of pornography.