Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Let's Put One in the Win Column!

From the Law Offices of Christina DiEdoardo

9th Circuit Could End Retroactive Sex Offender Disclosure

Very interesting decision from the 9th Circuit this morning in Doe v. Harris where it asks the California Supreme Court to determine “Whether, under California law, the default rule of contract interpretation is (a) that the law in effect at the time of a plea agreement binds the parties, or (b) that the terms of a plea agreement may be affected by changes in law.” When Mr. Doe (who is proceeding anonymously for reasons that will soon be obvious) pled guilty in 1991 to one count of committing a lewd act upon a minor, California Penal Code Section 290 required that he register with law enforcement, but that his registration records would not be accessible to anyone who wasn’t a peace officer. Since he avoided any jail time and got five felonies dropped, this doubtlessly seemed like a good deal.

….And then “Megan’s Law” and its progeny on the state and federal level, which require states to disclose parts or all of a registered sex offender’s data to the public, were passed. Worse for Mr. Doe and persons in his situation, Megans Law and its progeny are retroactive, sweeping thousands of people who pled guilty to registrable offenses within their nets of disclosure even though their pleas pre-dated the law.

When Mr. Doe sued to block disclosure of his information, the District Court found that since neither the People nor Mr. Doe’s attorneys made any reservation of rights as to future changes to PC 290, the parties must have based the agreement on the law as it existed in 1991 pre-Megan’s law and therefore blocked disclosure. The State appealed, leading to today’s certification question.

If the Ninth Circuit upholds the District Court, it could help thousands of people obtain relief from the retroactive effects of ever-stricter registration laws.


  1. I agree! Its not fair to change the terms of a convition after the fact. I know someone who would never have taken the DAs offer if he would have known that he would be a registered sex offender for life. Instead he would have went to tril. Years after he did his time and was off probation they tell him now we want you to be on the sex offender registry for life. Thats changing the punishment after the punishment is already served. You cant punish someone twice for the same crime! Its against a persons rights. And the sex offender registry is punishment.And now they make offenders pay a $100 annual fee for the registy. That just an annual fine or punishment for life. Becouse if you dont pay you go to jail. When they start doing this with drunk drivers or shoplifters and other offenders then maybe someone will care... but then it may be to late.

  2. I agree. The original conviction and associated punishment should stick. The problem is that the government, in their infinite stupidity and blindness, do not consider sex offender laws as punishment. Seriously? It's considered a 'civil remedy'. The reason? If the government is ever forced to admit that sex offender registration is punishment, then it automatically becomes unconstitutional on several levels. All sex offender laws would have to be repealed.

  3. They list it under the idea that it is all for 'public safety' which then qualifies it as a civil remedy to 'the problem'. Then never take into consideration the collateral damage that follows.

    The main reason that it is so hard to make change is because the politicians use the backs of sex offenders and their families to garner votes from those that are ignorant to the damage the laws are doing to everyone due to the costs that accompany these laws that are virtually immeasurable. For example, taxes, RSOs are usually unable to find work that will sustain even one person, let alone a family, so they continue to be almost wards of the state for they have to utilize a great many low-income programs that the rest of the taxpayers fund. Next you have the humiliation of the public registry, where the children and loved ones can become outcasts by association because of their parent, spouse, family or friend is listed on the registry. There have been instances where the neighbors of RSOs have pulled the RSOs children aside and took the liberty of telling the child all about their parent who is on the Registered Sex Offender's list. Causing the child psychological harm that is literally being delivered by the state that created these laws that they swore would protect them.

    That is just two examples, it permeates every part and aspect of the offender's life to the extent that it is like cornering any wild animal from the smallest squirrel to the biggest bear, once cornered every animal will either give up and wait to die or fight for its life. They leave the RSO very little choice most of the time, and in some cities have been literally restricted from living anywhere within city limits, which really is a DIRECT violation of the constitution.

    I could go on and on...

  4. I agree but only to a point I am sex offender sentenced to probation in 1992 and released by 1995. Here is what sex offenders need to realize right now. That was the choice all sex offenders made when they offended. The burden of proof is on us as sex offenders that we are not a threat to society and that we won’t return to committing further sex offenses. Here is why society is being so hard on us. Our victims my require years of counseling and therapy to get to a point where what we did to our victims will not control their lives and they can begin the long road to recovery. So it is not surprising to me that society is so hard on sex offenders. The other problem is some offenders violate their rules or they reoffend it took me over 20 years to prove I was not going to reoffend yes it sucks but this is the price all sex offenders nationwide will have to pay for their crimes and because we did not think of the affect or actions had on our victims and the cocequences of our actions.

  5. The way the laws are written now, there is no redemption, there is no proving you are not a threat and an accusation can land you in prison and persecute you and your family for life. If you have nothing to hide and you are no longer a threat to society then why are you posting as anonymous.

    The public registry that is posted online is not the way to keep children safe... Not one sex offender is going to say that they shouldn't be punished but their family shouldn't be punished by association, not their children. That is where the laws go too far.

    Unless you think that it is right for children to pay for the crimes of the parents. I then sincerely hope you are not a parent for I then pity your children that pay for your mistakes.