Last week, Governor Brad Henry signed Senate Bill 2064 into law. The bill, sponsored by Senator Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant) and Representative Randy Terrell (R-Moore), strengthens restrictions on registered Oklahoma sex offenders by increasing the "zone of safety" around locations frequented by children: schools, childcare facilities, playgrounds, and parks.
Under the previous statute, sex offenders were not allowed within 300 feet of such areas; the new legislation extends the zone to 500 feet. In fact, only two days after Governor Henry signed the new sex offender restrictions into law, a registered sex offender was arrested at the Festival of the Arts in Oklahoma City.
When officers received complaints of a man panhandling and, the next day, of being intoxicated, they discovered that he was, in fact, a registered sex offender convicted of forcible oral sodomy in 1999. Because the Festival of the Arts takes place within an Oklahoma City park, as a sexual offender, the man was not allowed within 300 feet under existing Oklahoma law.
He was arrested on a complaint of failure to comply with Oklahoma sex offender registration laws. When the new law is enacted, the "zone of safety" surrounding the park will increase to 500 feet, keeping registered offenders even further from the Festival.
Enhanced Restrictions and No-Go Zones
An expanded zone of safety is not the only restriction strengthened by Senate Bill 2064. The law places new restrictions on registered sexual offenders who have legitimate reasons, such as dropping off or picking up their own children, for entering into a declared safe zone such as a school or daycare.
Any offender who has a legitimate purpose for entering the zone must first notify the facility of his or her status as a sex offender. The sexual offender must further inform the facility of the time he or she will be in the area, and may only remain in the area for a "reasonable" amount of time. Senate Bill 2064 is designed to protect children from sexual predators.
However, it also further restricts the rights of those who may have been unjustly convicted or arbitrarily assigned to a high-level tier by the Risk Assessment Review Committee. If you are charged with a sex crime in Oklahoma, you may be facing lifetime registration as a sexual offender and subject to these new restrictions. Seek competent, experienced counsel from an Oklahoma City sex crimes defense lawyer to ensure the best outcome to your case.