In Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) 530 U.S. 466 the Supreme Court established that a criminal defendant generally has the Sixth Amendment right to a jury determination, beyond a reasonable doubt, of any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum.
Today, the California Supreme Court decided that Apprendi does not invalidate a discretionary (not mandatory) requirement made by a judge (not a jury) that a convicted criminal defendant must register as a sex offender for life. The Court was deciding whether to uphold registration for a simple misdemeanor assault conviction where the jury acquitted the defendant of the greater felony charge alleging a lewd act on a child under the age of 14, pursuant to Penal Code section 288.
The trial court decided that the defendant should register as a sex offender even though he was acquitted of the felony child molestation charge. The judge decided pursuant to Penal Code section 290.006 that the evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt that the assault was committed as a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification.
Section 290.006 provides “Any person ordered by any court to register… for any offense not included specifically in subdivision (c) of Section 290, shall so register, if the court finds at the time of conviction or sentencing that the person committed the offense as a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification.”
The defendant claimed that his registration order is invalid because it increased the maximum penalty, or punishment, for his simple assault conviction and was imposed solely on the basis of findings made by a judge, not a jury. The court had no problem rejecting this claim on the basis that lifelong sex offender registration is not punishment, therefore, Appredi simply does not apply.
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