California State Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco has a track record for being involved with bills that chip away at the punishment for sexual crimes.
In 2017, Wiener co-sponsored a bill “to remove the felony penalty for knowingly exposing another person to HIV.” Wiener also authored SB 384, which changes the requirement for sex offenders to be listed on the sex offender registry for life. SB 384 is set to become law on January 1, 2021.
SB 384 Revamps the Sex Offender Registry Requirements
Under current California law, the Sex Offender Registration Act “requires a person convicted of certain sex crimes to register as a sex offender with law enforcement officials while residing, working, or attending school in California.”
SB 384 changes California’s current mandatory, universal, and lifelong registry system to a three-tiered system. In this new system, offenders are ranked according to the severity of their crimes, and after a certain time period of good behavior, they can petition to be removed from the list.
SB 384 changes California’s current mandatory, lifelong registry system to a three-tiered system.
The first tier includes sexual crimes such as sexual battery, enticing a child into a house of prostitution, sodomy with a minor, oral sex with a minor, arranging to meet a minor for lewd purposes, and child pornography. After 10 years, the offender can petition to be removed from the list.
The second tier includes sexual crimes such as incest, rape of a disabled adult, “sodomy with a minor under 14 years of age and more than 10 years younger than the defendant (and there is no force),” “lewd acts with a minor under 14,” “oral copulation with a minor under 14 years of age and more than 10 years younger than the defendant (and there is no force).” After 20 years, the offender can petition to be removed from the list.
The third tier includes sexual crimes such as rape, murder committed during rape, kidnapping to rape, sex trafficking minors, and “sex acts against a child 10 or younger.” These offenders are not granted the privilege of petition. They remain on the registry for the rest of their lives.
SB 384 doesn’t mandate lifetime registration for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14.
Dordulian Law Group points out that “in its current form, SB 384 does not mandate lifetime registration for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14 years of age. Yet, inexplicably, such conduct with a child over 14 somehow does require automatic lifetime registration. It’s an illogical aspect of the bill that has somehow managed to fly under the radar.”
SB 384 is not Senator Wiener’s only bill that houses illogical legislation. Wiener also introduced Senate Bill 145, which has raised concerns because it appears to help pedophiles evade punishment under the law.
SB 145 Proposes To Decriminalize Sex with Minors
Wiener introduced SB 145 purportedly “to end blatant discrimination against LGBT young people regarding California’s sex offender registry.” SB 145 states that its goal is to “exempt from mandatory registration under the act a person convicted of certain offenses involving minors if the person is not more than 10 years older than the minor and if that offense is the only one requiring the person to register.”
Senate Bill 145 says, “(a) A person convicted of an offense specified in subdivision (b) may, by writ of mandate, seek discretionary relief from the duty, imposed as a result of that conviction, to register pursuant to the act if, at the time of the offense, the person is not more than 10 years older than the minor, as measured from the minor’s date of birth to the person’s date of birth.” The bill doesn’t mention sexual orientation.
SB 145 says if the adult is less than 10 years older than the minor, registry shouldn’t be required.
Dordulian Law Group explains the situation succinctly, “The issue in question concerns how the law views different types of sex crimes involving minors. Under existing law, illegal sexual relations between a teenager age 15 and over and a partner within 10 years of age do not automatically require the offender to go onto the sex offender registry if the offense in question involves vaginal intercourse. In such instances, a judge must examine the facts of the case and determine whether or not sex offender registration is warranted.”
But “sexual relations between a teenager age 15 and over and a partner within 10 years of age that involve instances of oral or anal intercourse do require automatic sex offender registration, and a judge has no say over whether or not such registration is warranted.”
Wiener argues that this distinction “disproportionately targets LGBT young people for mandatory sex offender registration since LGBT people usually cannot engage in vaginal intercourse.”
Wiener argues that the law “disproportionately targets LGBT young people for sex offender registration.”
Wiener also argues that when teens age 14 to 17 voluntarily engage in sex with an adult within the 10 year frame, the adult should be judged on a case-by-case basis. This would better accommodate cases where one party is 18 and the other is younger.
“We need to stop criminalizing teenage sex,” Wiener said. “At a minimum, we should not be forcing these kids onto the sex-offender registry and ruining their lives.”
The Issue Is That Predators Are Protected
The public isn’t concerned so much about teenagers having sex — they’re concerned about adults sexually exploiting children and teens, while being legally protected. They’re concerned about predatory pedophiles getting away with sexually abusing minors. Those thinking rationally know that a 24-year-old has no justifiable, appropriate reason to engage in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old of either sex.
They’re concerned about adults sexually exploiting children and teens, while being legally protected.
Minors are considered minors in the eyes of the law because they aren’t capable of making mature decisions. The current laws are there to protect minors from unscrupulous adults taking advantage of them.
SB 145 undermines these protections “by providing any individual who sexually assaults a minor an opportunity to potentially evade the sex offender registry.” It would allow an adult to lure a minor with the intent to have sex and then enable them to evade registering as a sex offender as long as they are less than 10 years older than their victim.
Closing Thoughts: A Different Solution to the “Discrimination” Issue
If Wiener really wants all forms of sex treated equally by the law, then a simpler solution would be to “amend existing law to include vaginal intercourse with a minor as an act that requires mandatory sex offender registration.” This would level the playing field and might even prevent future sex crimes from being committed.