Voyeurism bill shut down

March 9, 2010


Fulfilling a request by the Riverside County District Attorney, Assembly member Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, introduced legislation last month requiring any person convicted of inappropriate sexual filming offenses to register as a sex offender.

AB 1688, “Sex Offenders Filming,” would require anyone convicted of electronically filming another person without the consent of that person, to register with local law enforcement authorities as a sex offender, under the Sex Offender registration Act.

In an Assembly hearing this week, Deputy District Attorney Rob Hightower, with the Riverside County District Attorney’s office, explained the necessity of the new “voyeurism law” because this type of sex offender is “slipping through the cracks.” Even with conviction, the offense would remain a misdemeanor under the new law, however the offender would now be required to register as a sex offender.

Hightower said that the bill has the support of district attorneys throughout the state including San Francisco DA Kamala Harris.

Liberty Sanchez with the Public Defenders Association appeared in opposition to the bill explaining that the current sex offender registry is already overpopulated with a total of 90,000 registrants, and 1 out of every 157 males in California makes the registry. Sanchez said that there was a need to focus on the high-risk offenders and not just keep adding to the list because of overly broad definitions. Sex offenders are classified as “high-risk” when they have met the sex offense criteria and have been convicted of multiple violent crimes, at least one of which was a violent sex crime within the prior five years.

The California Sex Offender Registry was created in 1947 and does not remove names, which according to Hightower, is the reason for 90,000 listed sex offenders.

This bill would require persons convicted of a sex offense to register pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act. Because this bill would create a new crime, and because additional persons would have to be registered as sex offenders by local officials, it would impose a new state-mandated local program.

Committee chair Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, made it clear that he was not supporting AB 1688 after all of the testimony: “There are already too many people labeled sex offenders and we can’t afford to aggravate the system at this time.”

The bill’s author, Assembly member Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, sent out a Twitter message right after the hearing that read, “My bill AB 1688 was killed on party line vote in committee today, choosing criminal rights over victim’s (and neighbor’s) rights. Again.”

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