The harassment of registered sex offenders is a serious problem.
California has required the registration of convicted sex offenders (Registrants) with local law enforcement agencies since 1947, but it was not until 1995 that the registration list became publicly available. In the 20 years since, registrants, regardless of the crime that put them on the list, have found that public access to their personal information has left them open to a new form of lifetime punishment not envisioned by the court: harassment.
If you are a registrants, you may experience harassment in many forms. It can be as simple as rude remarks and insults from strangers on the street, or it may be a neighbor who constantly calls the police to visit your home for the slightest of reasons. So is there anything you can do to avoid harassment?
Many registrants believe that their placement on the registration list means they are powerless against harassment from others. The attitude seems to be “I did something wrong, so I have to deal with this.” However, the truth is you still have the right to live a peaceful life that is no different from any other resident of the United States, and there are several things you can do to ensure that right.
The first step you should take is to document what you are experiencing. If you find that the same person is continually annoying or threatening you, keep a journal of his or her activity. Write down the date, time, and description of the harassing behavior. If the person has harassed you by constantly calling the police with false complaints, take down the responding officers’ names, and the nature of the false complaints. You will want to have a record of the harassment that you can refer to when you decide to take the next steps.
Civil Harassment Restraining Orders
Like any other resident, you have the right to file a restraining order to prevent another person from contacting you or coming within a specified distance of you and your home. An experienced attorney can help you file a restraining order by explaining what you need to show to convince the court that your harasser should be ordered to stay away from you.
If the court grants the restraining order, the restrained person will not be able to:
--Contact you or any member of your household;If the restrained person violates the order, he or she could have to pay a fine, go to jail, or both. Also, if your harasser is not a U.S. citizen, violating the restraining order could result in his or her deportation. You could also use the restraining order as a step toward a civil suit for harassment against the person who is causing the problem.
Contact the Police
The requirement that you register as a sex offender does not mean that you have given up your right to be protected by the police. If you receive threats, or if your neighbor constantly files false complaints, you should bring this to the attention of your local law enforcement agency.
Under California Penal Code section 422, it is a crime to willfully threaten to commit a crime that will result in death or great bodily injury to another person with the intent that the victim takes the statement as a threat, and that reasonably places the victim in state of sustained fear. The law treats threats the same, no matter the past of the person at whom the threat is directed. You should always treat a threat seriously and bring it to the attention of law enforcement.
No one likes to have their time wasted, and the police are no different. If the harassment you are receiving involves multiple calls to the police to have them visit your home, show the police how many times they have been called by a neighbor for no reason. They might pay a visit to the neighbor and warn them that you have a right to live peacefully, too. In some cases, law enforcement could decide to charge the person with the crime of filing a false police report.
For now, have a great day and a better tomorrow.
eAdvocate (BACK to the Top Page)
1 hour ago