San Francisco

State High Court Upholds Two Conditions of Sex Offender Probation

The California Supreme Court in San Francisco Monday upheld and clarified two sections of a state law intended to tighten supervision of convicted sex offenders who committed crimes against children and have been placed on probation.

The statute is known as Chelsea's Law, in memory of Chelsea King, a suburban San Diego high school student who was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender in 2010.

In addition to setting probation requirements, the law increases penalties for people who commit sex crimes against children.

The court ruled in the case of Ignacio Garcia, who pleaded no contest in Santa Clara County Superior Court in 2013 to two counts of committing lewd acts upon a child. Prosecutors said that Garcia, then age 16, molested his 9-year-old nephew.

Garcia, who was charged as an adult, was sentenced to three years on probation.

In his appeal, he challenged two of the probation conditions imposed on him under Chelsea's Law.

One of the conditions required him to give up his right against self-incrimination when answering questions from his probation officer and to submit to lie detector tests.

He contended that the provision violated his constitutional Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

But the seven-member state high court unanimously said the provision should be interpreted to require the probationer "to answer fully and truthfully all questions posed to him as part of the sex offender management program."

At the same time, the court said, his answers could not be used against him in a criminal proceeding. The requirement was therefore not unconstitutional, the court said.

The second provision challenged by Garcia required him to give up his right to confidentiality from his psychotherapist.

The court said that provision should be interpreted to allow limited communication between the probationer's psychotherapist and probation officers concerning the probationer's rehabilitation.

The panel said the state has a "strong and legitimate interest" in understanding the probationer's situation in order to protect public safety.

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