Woman Placed on Sex Registry Without Knowledge (CA Penal Code 290)

When a woman from Blue Grass, Iowa decided to help a family in need, she never would have believed that it would lead to the trouble that it did.  Evidently, a young man and his parents posted that they were stuck at a local chain store and needed assistance.  As the Blue Grass woman was a member of the same pet rescue group on Facebook, she didn’t think twice about allowing the small family to stay with her for the evening, clean up, and then go on their merry way.  It wasn’t until a relative tried to reach the needy family’s son that the Blue Grass woman found that her address had been used by the son to register with Iowa’s sex offender registry (CA Penal Code 290).  The case has brought up several different issues, including that of privacy and problematic issues with sex offender registries as a method of curtailing illegal behavior toward children.

While the debate has raged in Iowa about whether or not sex offender registry laws are strict enough, California citizens might ask whether their state’s similar laws are so strict.  It is, in fact, the California Department of Justice that keeps track of sex offenders for the state.  There are forms to fill out and information, like their address, phone number, etc., must be filled out each and every year.  What’s more is that anyone on the sex offender registry must make sure that, if they have changed addresses, they inform their probation officer or other law enforcement officials of their whereabouts.  The trouble is that the registrable sex offenses in California range from more serious and violent crime such as rape charges (CA Penal Code 261)  to pandering to urinating in public and it is clear that not every offender must be watched at all times.  Nonetheless, the stigma attached to having your name on the sex offender registry is oftentimes enough to keep you from getting a job, renting a particular apartment, or buying the house that you want, even if someone else used your address!