Houman Fakhimi

Orange County Sex Offender Bans Challenged

A sex offender ban in Costa Mesa is causing a stir after the first man to be arrested and charged under the local ordinance was allegedly caught entering a city park.

Costa Mesa Criminal Defense Lawyer Houman Fakhimi understands that the day after that incident was reported, it was announced that four Orange County cities are facing civil lawsuits brought by a convicted sex offender who says that the sex offender bans in those areas are unconstitutional. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

In Costa Mesa, the man recently arrested was the first under the city's ordinance. Others to have similar measures include Lake Forest, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach.

The plaintiff in the civil case alleges that he was convicted of a felony offense more than 15 years ago, and although he must register as a sex offender, he has paid his debt to society and committed no further crimes since. The bans, he says, prevent him from going to public parks, beaches, hiking trails and even certain roadways. He contends the measures violate his rights to free speech, travel, assembly and due process.

Most of the ordinances do not differentiate between parks intended for children's use and they don't solely forbid those who have been convicted of sex crimes against children.

In Huntington Beach, council members approved the ban last November, although several council members opposed it. Lake Forest passed its ban back in late 2011. Seal Beach approved its ordinance earlier this year.

The bans cover everything from city-owned sports facilities to piers to beaches and even certain parking lots.

These are sweeping measures that no doubt infringe upon these individuals' constitutional rights, particularly given that an arrest needn't require the commission of another crime or even the intent.

In the most recent case out of Costa Mesa, the same man was arrested twice within the course of two weeks on misdemeanor charges of illegally being inside a city park. The maximum penalty for this violation is six months behind bars.

City officials in Costa Mesa say the ban improves quality of life and also reduces the homeless population sleeping inside the parks at night. This individual was reportedly sleeping in the park at the time of his arrest.

This individual, who is on probation, was made to sign a letter earlier this year saying that he understood that if he entered certain public areas as a sex offender, he risked violation of his probation.

Although the bans don't differentiate among the types of sex offenders, this individual has been convicted twice of lewd acts with a child. He will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The individual who filed the civil suit indicated that he was married, had children, was gainfully employed and had not committed another crime since his release more than a decade ago.

If you are arrested for violation of the sex offender ban in one of these areas, please call us as soon as possible to discuss your rights. If you are facing sex charges, this is one more illustration of who being forced to register as a sex offender can impact the rest of your life.

Hire an experienced attorney and fight the charges.