How Registered Sex Offenders can Challenge “Jessica’s Law” Residency Restrictions

Q. My brother is going to get out of jail soon, and we were planning on him moving in with me, but his parole officer told him he couldn’t because he has to register as a sex offender and I live too close to an elementary school, which is against “Megan’s Law” or “Jessica’s Law” or something like that. Isn’t there anything we can do? I’m afraid if he doesn’t live with me he will be homeless.


A. California’s Megan’s Law requires anyone convicted of a wide range of crimes, including forcible sex crimes involving non-consenting adults and most sex crimes involving children, prostitution, and child pornography, to register as a sex offender upon release on parole or probation or discharge from custody. California Penal Code § 290. Proposition 83, the Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act, or “Jessica’s Law,” which amended Megan’s Law on November 8, 2006, forbids any registered sex offender from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children regularly gather. California Penal Code § 3003.5(b).

Your brother is not alone in facing a very bleak prospect. According to the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit public interest law firm which engages in class action and other impact litigation on behalf of prisoners, these residency restrictions have forced many parolees to become homeless because they are unable to find affordable, compliant housing.

Jessica’s law has been challenged in courts as being too restrictive. Your brother may wish to ask a court to review his case. The Prison Law Office, which has been involved in many of these challenges, has produced a packet of forms and instructions that parolees can use to ask for an immediate stay of the restrictions while their individual cases are being heard by the courts. The packet is available for free on the web at,Dec10.pdf. An additional fill-in-the-blank form, required by all California state courts in this type of case, can be downloaded from the California Courts’ website at

You should be aware that local cities, towns and counties are permitted to adopt ordinances which impose further restrictions on where you can live. If you are not in Sacramento and are unsure whether your residence is in compliance with local law, check with someone who is familiar with your community’s laws.

Good luck!

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian

  • I keep getting reinterpretations’ of the basic law on “Changing residence”. Some cops say if I am away from my home even overnight I need to report. I am not on parole, completed my sentence over 12 years ago and do not see a hotel room in another state as a “Second residence”. What is ste standard for change of residence?

    • If that happens in California, please refer those cops to Penal Code section 290(b)*, which says that people to whom the law applies must register “within five working days of coming into, or changing his or her residence within, any city, county, or city and county, or campus in which he or she temporarily resides.” Although it’s possible that a hard-line prosecutor could say that means that if you stay somewhere overnight, you have five days to register that address, I would hope that the law would be more reasonably interpreted to mean that you can stay somewhere for up to four days without needing to register that location as a temporary address.

      However, since you mentioned the hotel being in another state, note that when you visit another state, your requirement to register there has nothing to do with California law. You need to check the state and local laws of everywhere you go! Different states have different requirements for how long you can be there before you must register. I’ve never heard of a state that requires registration for a one-night stay, but it’s possible, and it could also be required by local laws.

      Please note that nothing I’ve said here can be taken as legal advice.

      Marshall Burns

      * You can read PC section 290(b) at

  • nolongerinsac

    “According to the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit public interest law firm which engages in class action and other impact litigation on behalf of prisoners, these residency restrictions have forced many parolees to become homeless because they are unable to find affordable, compliant housing.”

    Gee, maybe they should have thought of that before choosing to commit the crime or crimes that would cause them to become a registered sex offender. While I can understand being upset if a family member was in that situation, for most of us, protecting our children is a much bigger concern. Especially since the evidence shows that the majority of sex offenders will be repeat offenders.

    • Ellen Dominguez

      “Gee, maybe they should have thought of that before choosing to commit the crime or crimes that would cause them to become a registered sex offender.”

      I’m not sure that’s a fair thing to say without further information. Remember, an eighteen year old who (foolishly) engages in sexting with an sixteen year old can be sent to jail and must register as a sex offender. I’ve heard of young adults doing stupid things to get them stuck with this label just as much as I’ve heard of child molesters roaming about. It’s not fair to judge the situation based on the label “sex offender” when you don’t know the entire story, because it can be anything within such a wide range.

      I’m not saying you’re wrong; sex crimes shouldn’t be committed, and it IS far more important to protect kids. Just keep in mind that “sex offender” doesn’t equal “child molester.”

    • what a crock of shit dude………..then protect your children, instead of being a lazy bastard…… if a sex offender knew ahead of time, that these laws would effect where he stayed at in the future, he or she most likely wouldnt have committed these crimes…..its amazing……..a guy murders someone…..and his victum will never breathe another breath……..but a sex victum will……….the murderer gets to walk about as he pleases, because the likely hood of him or her repeating is nil compared to a sex offender………so let me see…….i rape someone but am grouped in with child molesters……..the 2000 foot rule should apply to Child Molesters ONLY……..because its children the voters are concerned about mostly………..correct?………..this is why it also involves schools too………..but to require a rapist, who took pussy, not a childs innocense, or a part of their body……but had sexual intercourse with a woman, whether against their will or not…………should never ever be grouped with Child Molesters and the 2000 foot rule………..and this should apply to Offenders who committed the crime in California…….out of state Offenders who have been discharged from their states, should not be required to register in another state, if they left their previous state in good standing……..that is ……..werent convicted of a new sex crime their………but to say that a person should of thought about his or her actions after the fact, regarding the new where you can live rule is just pure bullshit……….ok idiot

    • Concerned Citizen

      I fear for our society if this is the type of thinking we engage in. The knuckle dragging caveman that threw out the statement above does not realize that if they can do it with this law then they can do it for every law. To single out a group for a sanctioned state sponsored witch hunt is beyond comprehension. This lynch mob mentality that modern society is engaged in is frightening. Statistical data shows that the recidivism rate for sex crimes is lower than most crimes but to sell their hidden agenda to caveman up there they put it in a nice neat package of “we are looking out for the public” and we bought it and now we have the Nazi’s policing one select group. Am I the only one who sees that this is the toehold they look for when they begin sweeping reform to include parking tickets and jay walking. Do we not see that allowing this type of conduct will infringe on everyone’s civil liberties when the few make laws to control the many. Do we not see that if we allow the persecution of a select group that it is just the tip of the iceberg. This is an election platform and politicians trying to justify their jobs to the public and we the people should take the rebel flag down, put a shirt on over our “wife beaters” and stand up for the few because if we don’t, we will be next.

  • These laws may also apply to people convicted of prostitution-related crimes, as well as other non-child molestation crimes. I’m not defending them or claiming that prostitution is a “victimless” crime, but some of the folks affected by this are unlikely to be a particular danger to children.

  • ‘an eighteen year old who (foolishly) engages in sexting with an sixteen year old can be sent to jail and must register as a sex offender.
    ‘ As they should. They are commiting a crime. The difference between a 16 and an 18 year old is huge. If an 18 year old man has sex with a 16 year old girl, that is child molestation.

    • actually there is very little difference, psychologically with an 18 yr old and a 16 yr old. Most persons don’t mature fully until their 20’s….

    • i am in that boat, we both went to same school, dating and had sex. same as everyother relationship in school and around the world, its not a sickning action its two kids in puppy love. Now i contiplate blowing my brains out everyday cause of hurrasement from people, the law stoping by my house, ill never have a career.

  • i can’t wait until half of the country is classified as sex offenders. time will come eventually. it will be easier to find a job and place to live when another 150 million people go on the registry.

  • i cant wait until half of the country gets forced to register and then maybe these laws will come down.

  • 29 years ago I was convicted of rape, regardless of how well I’ve done in my life, and I’m self made and my kids and wife have anything they need, there is always a shadow or cloud that is over me because of a choice I made. The laws against sex crimes didn’t didn’t make a bad choice, I DID!! Bad decisions come from the types of ways we choose to live our lives, i.e. DRUGS, ALCOHOL, STRIP CLUBS, etc. etc.. Choices can and will often last a lifetime and understanding our surroundings and life-styles will aid in our decision making and lead to a successful ability to lead a productive, and most often than not, meaningful life. THINK!!THINK!!

  • I do not see any comments regarding the many young men who are lied to by a girl about her age. My son met a girl on myspace who said she was 19. He was nineteen and never thought for a moment to get a birth certificate. Well guess what he is now a registered sex offender and she is still going around giving and posting a fraudulent age. Don’t be so quick to paint every “sex offender” with the same tar brush because if you do not know what each specifice case is you basically know nothing.

    • I can not believe that I am reading post by what I will assume are intelligent adults. All I hear is everyone making excuses and crying over people that are CONVICTED sex offenders. I can’t believe that people that have there own kids, friends with neighbors that have kids, nieces and nephews can try and slip hairs on a subject where sadly, tomorrow it could happen to a kid you know. This is the whole reason that I have not and never will I place my child in a daycare or babysitter for the fear that they will have that mentality and put my child in harms way. These people are Sex Offenders, I don’t care what or why! GET OUT OF MY NEIGHBORHOOD, MY CHILDREN’S PARK and THEIR SCHOOLS. Who cares if there homeless, better than me running into them while walking with my children. This second, I just found out that I have two sex offenders living three houses from me. Cry all you want for filth. I will see to it that they move quickly and I will send them your way. You can take them. Not around my child’s safe house and definitely not around my neighbors that, like myself, would never believe that the same people that are swore to protect the public, house these dangerous ignorant people in family neighborhoods. If it makes you feel better, I get the chance, that parole officer that put them here, is going to get the same! Society is going to try and over understand the wrongs things and realize it when it is too late. What you sad sick people are doing is telling everyone that you are condoning sex with minors, that its ok if you have a good excuse and ultimately allowing child molestation to be, not only ok, but expected. What I would tell your son, would be to not pick up on ladies online and not jump into bed without really knowing the person. She was underage and he is an ADULT. That is another thing that is wrong with parents today. Stop trying to be cool and your childs best friend and start holding your child accountable for their part in what happened. I won’t be surprised if your son gets “fooled” and uses the same excuse because its ok with you!!!!! I would love to see others stand up for children without worrying about hurting the other persons feelings. We are teaching our children to second guess their feelings to make sure that they are not accusing someone of something that they did not do. I love it when my daughter tells an adult no when they are trying to say hi in a way that makes her uncomfortable. And I am right there to let that person know to back off. I think I would actually cry to see parents actually stand with their child and back them up even if you don’t think its right, just to show your child that whatever they are feeling is ok even if the other person gets butt hurt. I know I would not feel the need to have to post this. GUARANTEED!!! Before jumping to anger, I hope some of you actually read this and really think about it.

    • http://none abe bump

      you are some one who half right ,so you rather put them in bushes, with nothing, like ticking time boms you speak to them like that,they follow you home, nothing to lose its all gone now with no family support, next thing you no you and the persons your talking about is on the 10 o clock news how safe are you then even if there not in or on your street there every wear around you,people messed up and those are the ones that been arrested and are trying to make amends for what ever they did now you want to put them on the streets for a public stoning? does that make you any better then them most people that do bad stuff don’t get out to the street how about cops school teachers are you watching the news these are your neighbors your church people with money don'[t have to go through sleeping in a box a bus bench a tent a car roaming the street looking for the next meal or a dollar its going to end up on your lap i hope your able to keep it positive and safe, we go from hating people of different ethnicity or gays now people with a record, i guess we as people got to make are self better then some one else, or send them to the moon maybe if we all don’t want a person living next to use were they going to live ? thiers got to be a better way to handle this then hate and making it hard on the person trying to put it behind him or her they have a right to live and work and be members of society and we need to let them have that chance and if its your kid or member of your family you would want that or are you going to send him to the moon to?lets hope not i gave you credit for protecting your family and not seeing all sides when we rule by hate we become it were do we stop at being dictators why not let the police line them all up and shoot them, they need the booge man,its a money thing wake up its how law is made it sell papers news gets people in a panic

  • I am a registered sex offender because I choose to molest an innocent child who was entrusted to my care. No one held a gun to my head, I was not drunk nor is there any excuse for my victimizing an innocent child. The consequences of my choice are severe but do not make me a victim in any way. What I did over 25 years ago has continued to affect my inability to get work, find places to live and try to move forward. What I did to that child has affecte3d them in even a deeper way I am sure. It is something I hope the child has been able to move forward from and experience healing from, yet I know will be with them the rest of their life. For the child (and the family) I am so sorry for what I did. Nothing can undo it … as for the consequences for my wrong actions, many of them have been added after the fact. There is nothing I can do about them (e.g. registry requirements, GPS, etc). Is it “right” to have retroactive laws? It doesn’t matter! They are what they are and I am not the victim! Would I like to move on in life, be given another chance to work a regular job and live in a safe place with my wife of over 40 years? For those who say “Well, you should have thought about all this before you molested a child” I say I should have thought about the child before I violated them!!! To focus on the consequences and how they affect me rather than on how I can move forward and not reoffend is totally unhealthy. To live with boundaries and to be surrounded by healthy adults who both know my past and hold me accountable for my daily actions and attitudes … that is now my choice. To seek professional counseling to deal with my own victimization as a child (and no I do not see that as an excuse for my victimizing a child!) Is the path I should have taken prior to molesting a child. Understanding contributing factors to my choices and how I deal with life’s and relationships is one thing in moving forward. To blame someone or my past experiences (even having been molest on numerous occasion by various adults) is another … it is unhealthy and could even start me down the path of acting out again against a child.

    It is true that the on going consequences more than disrupt my life. And I think some are overkill and not reasonable. But they are what they are and somehow my wife and family will move forward. My hope and prayer is that the child ( now adult) and family have been able and will continue to be able to move beyond the consequences of my terrible wrong choice.

    I am sorry to all of you who have suffered at the hand of a child molester like myself. I am thankful I was caught and that through the process of the justice system, professional counseling and on-going appropriate boundaries and healthy relationships with others (and my awesome wife and family that have extended support and grace throughout the past 25 plus years) I have nor reoffended, nor taken the “easy” way out (suicide). As “bad” a things continue to be … nothing compares to the wound I inflicted on that child. Peace to the child and family. Sorry

  • Just a brief correction.. I meant to say “I chose … (past tense) in the above opening sentence. I continually choose to keep healthy boundaries, accountability and to deal with my issues in appropriate ways.

  • These females now of days look grown and they lie about their dam age. Its not fair!! I made a decision to pimp!! But not a young female!!! And I never forced any female to b wit me. She chose to b wit me. And I didnt manipilate her she was already a prostitute. I was 20 years. I was still young minded myself. I grew up in a environment where Its all around. And I thought it was the thing to do. The money looked real good. But it wasnt!!!

    • Joel Rosenberg

      This is amazing

  • I think all of these laws need some changes. When I was in high school, if a sophomore was dating and having sex with a senior it was okay. Some of those guys turned 18 before graduation; are they child molesters? No. But in today’s legal system they would have to register for life as a sex offender. How many of our husbands, fathers and grandfathers would have had to do that if society were the same back then.

  • I think that being classified as a sex offender should be based on the fact that it was done against someone’s will. To label someone as a sex offender does in fact label them as a child molester. If it was a consensual relationship, it should not be treated the same as someone who forces someone to have sex. I agree that it should be illegal, as it is, but not to put “child molester” on their forehead. Society automatically thinks that someone in this situation is out to have sex with their children and that is often not the case. I saw that someone above mentioned that sex offenders will more that likely re-offend? Well, that is incorrect. In fact, 5 out of 6 sex offenders DO NOT EVER do it again. Sometimes the convicted person has an immature personality. They don’t realize to what extent their lives can be affected if they are caught. Our laws do not allow for a person to learn a lesson from their actions. Many people convicted of sex crimes are sentenced, on their only offense, to life. Even murderers often do not receive that harsh of punishment. I agree that it should absolutely be illegal, as I have 3 daughters of my own, but I think there is such a thing as going too far. If a 12 year old girl becomes pregnant, she automatically becomes medically emancipated and her parents are no longer able to make choices for her. Many teenagers are sentenced as adults if they commit offenses that are serious like murder. The majority of high school students in this day and age are no longer virgins. Our grandparents were able to marry at 16 and had lifelong marriages, but somehow today it is a life sentence to have a consensual relationship with a minor. They are charged with sexual molestation instead of Unlawful Sex With a Minor. Why does that law exist if our government will instead charge a person with molestation and cause a man to lose the rest of his life because they say the girl is not mentally capable of making that decision? There are men who are in jail for raping 3 year old kids. That should be what that charge is intended for.

  • after reading many different law articles today, I found that the 2000 foot rule DOES NOT apply to me, wow what a relief that is, believe me, finding a place to live in San Diego County that falls within the 2000 foot rule is one very difficult task. Two Judges ruled that if you were released before the new Jessica Law was enacted, then you are not required to adhere to the 2000 foot rule, we’ll see what the cops say when I mention it when Im registering. Also, my conviction date was March of 1976 and I have not re-offended, also my state of conviction IS NOT California, and my convicting state no longer requires me to register as of July 10th 1994. But good ole California makes sure I have to register, you would think they would HONOR my convicting States Statutes. If I had commited another sex offense in Cally, then by all means, put a big fat X on my forehead. I have done nothing wrong………I paid my debt to society……I got 5 yrs…….I could of gotten 25, but instead of going to trial, I plead out for a lighter sentence, I served 38 months and 20 days. I don’t owe YOU, or any other adult female any explanations; and the fact that California groups me in with stinking ass, pieces of do-do Child Molesters, really pisses me off. Everyone assumes because your convicted for Rape, that also makes you a potential child molester, what a crock of shit……..You got any proof of that……..then post the statistics here on this BLOG………But for now… least I don’t have to worry about that stinking ass 2000 foot rule anymore… up……being grandfathered in before Megan’s Law took affect……….and that aint too much further down the road, especially with the state going bankrupt and the prisons overflowing…………CItizens of California, YOU created this problem with the 2000 foot rule……….now your going to have to live with it……..I think a 1500 foot rule would of been more realistic, even 1000 feet, that over a 1/4 mile folks,,,,if a chester can get within a 1/4 mile of your kids……..then your not doing your job as a parent.

  • http://none abe bump

    amen were are the parents

  • reina carbajal

    i am a 26 yr female with 2 kids. . . i got my sexoffender charges wen i was 16 years old for takng a note out of a girls bra. since then i have never been able to get a decent job. . .i dont qualify fir housing. . i didnt even understand the actual laws reguarding my yearly registration till i got charged with faliure to register wen i was 19 amd out of detention. . .i wasnt and never have been a threat to children. . .i work but i have to tell anyy employer i am a so. . .i cant volenteer at my 3 yr old daughters school. . .i petioned once to get off the registry but was denied for no valid reason(legally they can deny only if u have been charged with the same crime) i gues if any one knows of a state that will assist low income familys with my history . for housing/section 8 please let me know . its been a tuff road


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