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Name: People v. Ruffin
Case #: F060606
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/02/2011

Mandatory sex registration for conviction for Penal Code section 288a, subdivision (e) violates equal protection. Appellant entered into a plea negotiation whereby he pled no contest to Penal Code section 288a, subdivision (e) (oral copulation while confined in state prison), with the court to determine if the law required him to register as a sex offender. At sentencing, the court imposed the agreed upon prison term and, pursuant to Penal Code section 290, subdivision (c), ordered mandatory lifetime registration. The appellate court found that the mandatory lifetime registration violated equal protection under both the federal and the state constitutions. Section 288a, subdivision (e), with the mandatory registration, prohibits oral copulation by a prison inmate with any consenting adult. Penal Code section 289.6, subdivision (a)(2), which does not require mandatory registration, prohibits oral copulation by a prison guard with a consenting adult who is a prison inmate. The legislative purpose for both statutes is to control custodial behavior. The legislative purpose of mandatory registration is to assure that persons convicted of the specified crimes are available for law enforcement surveillance as the Legislature has found such persons likely to commit such acts in the future and to allow the citizenry to protect itself against such persons. There is no reason why the Legislature would conclude that prison inmates who commit acts of oral copulation with consenting adults, as opposed to the prison guard who commits an act of oral copulation with the consenting prison inmate, requires mandatory lifetime registration. Accordingly mandatory registration for the prison inmate who commits oral copulation with a consenting adult must be eliminated. The matter was remanded, however, to permit the trial court to determine if discretionary registration is appropriate.