Friday, January 29, 2016

Sentence in East San Diego County Child Molest Case Waters Down Lifetime Sex Offender Registration

San Diego criminal defense lawyer

Pauletta Santaua of El Cajon was convicted this week of one count of committing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 (Pen C 288(a)). The San Diego Union Tribunequotes the judge in the case, Peter C. Deddeh, who confirmed that Santau's involvement was limited to the one incident and that a psychologist determined Santaua was NOT a sexual predator.

So, why was Pauletta Santaua sentenced to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life? The California Penal Code requires that every person convicted of a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 to register (Pen C 290(c)). Judge Deddeh had no discretion to waive the registration requirement, even though he took notice of the fact that Santaua was not a sexual predator.

The whole purpose of sex offender registration is to provide law enforcement with up to date and accurate information regarding the location and propensities of people who are likely to reoffend. An added benefit to the registration system allows every concerned parent to search a national registry for predators in their neighborhood. When people like Santaua are forced to register, the whole system is watered down. You can't tell Ms. Santaua's blip on the map of your neighborhood from the serial molestor two doors down. With all these dots, how are the police or concerned parents supposed to keep track of the dangerous predators?

Unlike many criminal defense lawyers, I think there is a place for sex offender registration in our community. But the way the law is written now, the registration system is completely useless. Many people don't realize that when Ms. Santaua is 89 years old and confined to wheel chair at the Shady Pines (assuming they will take a registered sex offender) - she will still be required to register. The law is just ridiculous.

If you have been charged with an offense that has even the slightest of sexual undertones, you need to proceed with your case very carefully. You will want to work with a skilled San Diego criminal defense lawyer who is very familiar with sex offender registration in California. Many times a plea agreement can be negotiated with the prosecutor allowing you to plea to an offense which does not carry the mandatory registration requirement.