Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chelsea's Law Approved by Senate, Almost on Governor's Desk

AB 1844, also known as the Chelsea King Child Predator Prevention Act of 2010, has been approved by the Senate and, after some changes at the Assembly, will be submitted for the governor's signature.

As was the case with previous sex offender legislation, AB 1844 was prompted by the tragic rape and murder of Chelsea King by John Gardner, a convicted sex offender. The new law:

  • Increases the sentence for assault with intent to commit a sexual act from 2/4/6 years to 5/7/9 years if victim is a minor.
  • Imposes a $100,000 fine on human trafficking when victim is a minor, in addition to the existing 4/6/8 prison sentence.
  • Increases the sentence for rape from 3/6/8 years to 9/11/13 years (for victims younger than 14) or to 7/9/11 years (for victims 14 or older). Sentences are even higher for offenses committed by multiple assailants (10/12/14 and 7/9/11 respectively)
  • Is applicable in addition to the existing charge of aggravated sexual assault.
  • Increases the sentence for lewd or lascivious act upon minors under 14, as well as upon dependent persons, from 3/6/8 to 5/8/10.
  • Expands upon Prop 83's mandate to commit offenders to years to life for certain sex offenses against minors to allow life without parole in such circumstances, and adds infliction of bodily harm to the list of circumstances entailing LWOP. It also creates combinations of circumstances yielding LWOP.
  • Increases the sentence for offenses committed with great bodily injury from 15-to-life to 25-to-life for victims under 14.
  • Adds to Jessica's Law's requirements the prohibition from entering "any park where children regularly gather" withour parole officer's permission.
  • Extends the parole period for sex offenders released after a life sentence to 10 years, and creates lifetime parole for habitual sex offenders, persons convicted of kidnapping a child under 14 with the intent to commit a specified sexual offense, and persons convicted of other specified sex crimes, including, among others,aggravated sexual assault of a child. For some offenses, a 20-year parole period is mandated.
  • Relaxes the minimal prison requirement for people convicted of petty theft and other offenses (2 priors) -- except for sex offenders (1 prior).
  • Requires the use of STATIC-99 as the state's risk assessment tool for adult male sex offenders as a static tool, and requires supplementing it with a dynamic tool.
  • Replaces the current requirement to place sex offense convicts in local treatment plan with a requirement of specific conditions, such as participation in an approved sex offender management program.
  • Requires an independent assessment of mental health needs in addition to that of the Department of Mental Health.
  • Is effective immediately.

The new law's language makes it difficult for me to find the "few cases" in which, according to the Chronicle, "the number of restrictions placed on parolees" would be reduced. Overall, this is one more step in the direction pursued before in Megan's Law and Jessica's Law.

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