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Name: People v. Cajina
Case #: A105479
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 03/23/2005
Summary

The trial court did not err in denying a motion in limine to exclude any mention of a defendant’s status as a sex offender in a prosecution for failing to register under Penal Code section 290. Relying on Evidence Code section 352, appellant argued that categorizing him as a “sex offender” was unduly prejudicial when the only question for the jury was whether he had complied with the registration requirements. He offered to stipulate that he had a statutory duty to register and to the requirements included in the registration statute, or to stipulate that he had a statutory duty to register because of “a felony conviction.” The trial court denied the motion but agreed to sanitize the prior conviction by having it referred to only as a “sexual offense.” The Court of Appeal agreed that the jury need not be informed of the defendant’s specific sex offense conviction, but held that unless the jurors are informed that the defendant’s duty to register derives from his status as a sex offender, they will be unaware of the public policy underlying the registration statute. If the jury acts in ignorance of this public policy requirement, there is the risk it will view the People’s case as an oppressive, unnecessary intrusion on the defendant’s liberty, resent the People for prosecuting it, and consequently refuse to consider whether the defendant’s failure to register was sufficiently morally blameworthy to warrant punishment. Thus, a defendant is not entitled to a ruling barring any mention of his status as a sex offender in a prosecution under section 290.