California approach to sexual predators

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I want to start my project from definition of the sexual predators. The sexual predator is a person who obtains or tries to obtain sexual contact with another person in a rude “predatory” manner. As if a predatorhunts down its prey, so the sexual predator is thought to “hunt” for his or her sex partners. People who commit sex crimes, such asrapeorchild sexual abuse, are commonly referred to the sexual predators. According to the book “Community Treatment and Supervision of Sex Offenders: How It's Done Across the Country and In California” (availably on the cite www.library.ca.gov) The term “sexual violent predator” (SVP) applies to offenders who target strangers, have multiple victims, or commit especially violent offenses of a sexual nature. Many states have enacted sexual predator laws that authorize the confinement and treatment of these types of offenders following completion of their criminal sentences. Key features of these laws include the following:

  • Civil or psychopathological commitment of an SVP follows a criminal sentence and is to some extent an alternative to criminal sentencing.
  • Criminal law particularly targets repeat sex offenders; civil commitment statutes can be used on individuals convicted of sex offenses for the first time.
  • Persons committed to a sexual predator facility remain until they are judged safe to be released, either to a less restrictive environment or to the community. Individuals who were judged to be poor candidates for specialized treatment or who did not make adequate progress after they were admitted could be returned to the court for re-sentencing under criminal laws.
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There are a number of state predator laws with variation. Governments of different countries try to protect their citizens against the sexual predators. They promulgate different laws and create different social programs to exclude the fact of the sexual predator's assault.

The governing body of the state California provided Megan's Law - Sex Offender Registration and Exclusion Information. I want to disclose what is the intention of the law (according to www.pameganslaw.state.pa.us)

The Sex Offender Tracking Program at the California Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains the registered sex offender database. That database is the basis for the information displayed on this Internet web site.

By law, persons convicted of specified sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders with a local law enforcement agency. Prior to release from prison, jail, a mental hospital, or on probation, sex offenders are notified in writing of their duty to register, and a copy of the notification form is forwarded to DOJ. When a sex offender is released into the community, the agency forwards the registration information to DOJ.

Registered sex offenders are required to update their information annually, within five working days of their birthday. Some sex offenders must update more often: transients must update every 30 days, and sexually violent predators, every 90 days. The Sex Offender Tracking Program keeps track of the next required update, and if a registered sex offender is in violation of the update requirements, the Internet web site will show the registrant as being in violation. When registrants change their residence address or become homeless (transient), they are required to update their registration information within five days with a local agency, which forwards that information to DOJ. DOJ updates the registered sex offender database on a daily basis, based on information received from local agencies. DOJ also updates the registered sex offender information on this Internet web site on a daily basis.

The Sex Offender Tracking Program is responsible for determining if any sex offender registrant who applies for exclusion from the Internet web site qualifies for exclusion. Registrants whose only registrable sex offenses are for the following offenses may apply for exclusion: (1) sexual battery by restraint (Penal Code § 243.4, subd. (a)); (2) misdemeanor child molestation (Penal Code § 647.6, or former section 647a); or (3) lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 (Penal Code section 288) or continuous sexual abuse of a child (Penal Code § 288.5), but only if the person convicted of section 288 or 288.5 successfully completed probation that was granted pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.066, subdivision which must be submitted to DOJ and approved before exclusion will be granted. Registered sex offenders who are granted exclusion from the Internet web site must still register as sex offenders.

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DOJ's Sex Offender Tracking Program has been responsible for keeping track of registered sex offenders in California since registration began in 1947. California was the first state in the nation to enact a sex offender registration law. Many states did not enact sex offender registration laws until the 1990's. Due to its lifetime sex offender registration requirement and a population exceeding an estimated 35 million residents, California today has the largest number of registered sex offenders of any state.

California's Megan's Law was enacted in 1996, and allows local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about sex offender registrants found to be posing a risk to the public. Megan's Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. In the wake of the tragedy, the Kankas sought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area. All states now have some form of Megan's Law.

Also I want to mention some more sex predator laws. I want to base my research on the article from the “Z Magazine” (November 2001) wrote by Mark McHarry. Some time ago laws was not too hard on sex predators. 40 years ago the law “might have earned a slap on the wrist now brings a life sentence in a maximum-security mental institution. But to far graver effect, the laws and the courts' opinions supporting them give states a new legal mechanism to lock up many more people than just predators”

“In effect in at least 16 states and under consideration in 21 more the sexually violent predator laws conflate physical violence with consensual sex with teenagers, casting a wider net thantheirname implies. In addition to those who commit an overtly violent act such as rape, they include merely the intention for sex between a gay-identified 17-year-old and an older partner. Despite the media characterization of predators as monsters, many of the cases prosecuted - including the landmark decision upholding the predator laws,Kansas v. Hendricks- involve non-violent sex with teenagers...Because the predator laws apply only to a personality disorder and because they lack the safeguards of criminal law, they give state legislatures the ability to extend indefinite confinement to any other behavior lawmakers consider deviant or delinquent.”

Also I want to mention such terms like “felony” and “misdemeanor”. What does it means? According to the common law of USA a felony is a serious crime. It involves the confiscation of the person's property. In addition, we have another term. It is “misdemeanors”. But at the most of countries the distinctions between “felony” and “misdemeanors” were abolished but not at the USA. The Federal government here defines a felony “as a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year”. But if “punishable by exactly one year or less it is classified as a misdemeanor”.

Assault is commonly realized as amisdemeanorand not as a felony.

The more serious crime of aggravated assault is treated as a felony.

Four elements were required at common law:

  1. The apparent, present ability to carry out;
  2. An unlawful attempt;
  3. To commit a violent injury;
  4. Upon another.

Simple assault can be distinguished without the intent of injury upon another person. Simple assault can consist simply of the violation of one's personal space or touching in a way the victim deemed inappropriate. It is important to note, however, that in common law states an assault is not committed by merely, for example, swearing at another; without some evidence of a threat of battery, there can be no assault.

As the criminal law evolved, element one was weakened in most jurisdictions so that a reasonable fear of bodily injury would suffice. These four elements were eventually codified in most states.

Modern American statutes define assault as:

  1. an attempt to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another; or,
  2. Negligently injured another person with adeadly weapon
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What is the sexual assault? It is “a general term which covers a range of crimes, including rape. As defined under California law, rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse that involves the use of threat of force, violence, or immediate and unlawful bodily injury or threats of future retaliation and duress”.(information about the common US law is available at http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/)

We see that governments of different countries keep working on laws and programs, which suppose to protect people from the sexual assault. Some of the laws are harsh but me personally don't feel sorry for convicted criminal. They do a lot of harm to people. Such kind of criminals destroy people's self-respect, lives and families. I agree with Megan's Law that the government and police should keep an eye on such kind of people even after they have released from a prison. Also I am sure that sexual predators are not full-salutary persons. I hardly believe that they are able to become the ordinary people ever.

I want to finish my project with a simple slogan: protect yourself by learning the law of your country!

References:

Harry, M. (2001, November). “Z Magazine”.

www.library.ca.gov

www.meganslaw.ca.gov

www.pameganslaw.state.pa.us