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New Year Brings New Changes to Megan's Law

In California, sex offenders are subjected to a harsh set of penalties, as regulated by Megan's Law. Under the jurisdiction of the law, state law enforcement authorities are expected to make information about registered sex offenders available to the public. The information can include the offender's full name, as well as his or her picture, home address, incarceration date, and even the nature of their offense. Following the stipulations of Megan's Law, the public is provided with two major sources of information: sex offender registration and community notification.

The discretion that most sex offenders would request of their sentencing is effectively unattainable given the rules set forth by Megan's Law; and, unfortunately, it is about to get worse. Effective tomorrow, the first of the year, the Department of Justice will be required by law to post what is known as a "static risk assessment score," for any registered sex offender who is eligible to for scoring. SARATSO, or "state authorized risk assessment tools used for evaluating sex offenders," will determine if and how a registered offender will fare on the new static risk assessment score.

The new addition to the law reflects the state's belief that risk assessment tools are the most precise way to predict whether or not a sex offender is likely to re-offend in the future. The decision to mandate static risk assessment scores comes from researched findings which suggest that the predictive accuracy of re-offense is enhanced when malleable factors (referred to as dynamic factors) are joined with unchangeable factors (referred to as static factors). Accordingly, the assessment that will be made from here on out will look at factors such as substance abuse, self-regulation problems, personality disorders, emotional identification with children, and deviant sexual interests.

Risk assessment scores are used in multiple ways, the first being a marker for the judge who will ultimately impose a sentence on the defendant. These scores are also used as tools in determining whether or not a registered sex offender poses current risk to the public; if so, community notification must be made. While serving the terms of his or her probation / parole, a sex offender might be supervised on a high-risk case load depending on their risk assessment score as well. This score can also be used as a factor that is considered when deciding if a sex offender needs to be placed in a treatment program.

Up until now, static risk assessment scores were one of the few components of a defendant's offense that remained private even after sentencing. The public Megan's Law internet website has refrained from positing these scores up until now, but that will all change tomorrow when the new 2013 year officially kicks into effect. Penal Code § 290.03-290.09 will now make both static and future violence scores of offenders available to the public via the Megan's Law website.

The penalties that are issued to registered sex offenders can vary, as noted above, but none are free from the harsh reality of making an offender's status known to the public. With this new provision of Megan's Law, this publicity could allow for further public scrutiny, because the statistical scoring of the person's offense will be added to the material that can be viewed by public eyes. Avoiding the potential humiliation, constraints, and restrictions that can result from a sex crime conviction, you need legal representation on your side.

At the Law Office of Ivan O.B. Morse, residents of Northern California can aggressively challenge the criminal accusations that have been made against them under the guidance of an experienced Dublin criminal defense attorney. For more than a decade, my firm has worked relentlessly to secure favorable verdicts and settlements for the clients under our reputation, and we are prepared to do the same for you. Now, more than ever, sex offenders have reason to fight the criminal charges they are facing, lest their status as a sex offender, along with the static risk assessment score, be made known to the public. Since 1991, my professional skills as a criminal defender have been put to work in the defense of residents in Dublin, Castro Valley, Livermore, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Tracy. I am ready to do the same for you.

The 2013 year will likely see many false arrests and wrongful convictions, but yours does not have to be one of them. With the help of my firm, you can effectively fight the allegations that have been made against you and potentially avoid the need to publicly register as a sex offender – or have the personal information reflected on a static risk assessment score be made known to the public. The Law Office of Ivan O.B. Morse is here to help, so contact my team today. We are here to fight for you!

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