Hugo Godinez, Sex Offender Appealing County Pervs-in-Parks Ban, Jailed for Violating Parole

Categories: Court, Crime-iny
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Hugo Godinez, the registered sex offender at the center of an appellate case that, depending on who tells it, freed only him from the restraints of a controversial county ordinance banning perverts from public parks or made that law null and void for all, has been sentenced to 197 days in jail for violating his probation. The Santa Ana 30-year-old admitted to various probation violations Thursday, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA), the same agency appealing a three-judge panel's favorable ruling for the plaintiff in the county Child Safety Zone ordinance case.

That ordinance, approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors in April 2011 and mirrored by several OC city councils since, was actually written by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson. It requires registered sex offenders to obtain permission from the Orange County Sheriff's Department before entering county parks and recreational areas. Several Orange County cities, at the urging of the OCDA, have adopted their own local ordinances, most of which apply to all sex offenders just like the county's law, although some only target known perverts who have preyed on children.

Godinez, who has been forced to register as a sex offender for life since a 2010 misdemeanor sexual battery conviction out of Costa Mesa, having signed paperwork indicating he knew he had to re-register in other jurisdictions if he changed his address, according to the OCDA. Prosecutors say Godinez also talked with his probation officer about the county ban on registered sex offenders in recreational areas where children gather.

Three days after that chat, and a month after supervisors enacted the county ordinance, he was arrested at Mile Square Park, an OC regional facility in Fountain Valley covered by the ban. Godinez would go on to be convicted in November 2011 on one misdemeanor count of failing to register and show proof of residency upon release from incarceration and sentenced to 100 days in jail and five years probation 

Godinez's Orange County Public Defender, Scott M. Van Camp, appealed on grounds that his client was attending a "mandatory" company party celebrating Cinco de Mayo and that the different residency requirements in different cities were unfair and trumped by state law. A three-judge Superior Court panel agreed with that last point last November, finding the county ordinance violates the California Constitution because it preempts state law that prohibits some, but not all, sex offender registrants from entering public parks.

The case is now pending before the state Court of Appeals. In the meantime, Rackauckas has said the earlier three-judge ruling only applies to Godinez having been at Mile Square Park that one day. Janice Bellucci, an attorney and California organizer with Reform Sex Offender Laws, countered the decision was a "major victory" for all registered sex offenders in the state. After Susan Schroeder, the district attorney's chief of staff, characterized the appellate decision was just the normal process of shaping law in this state, county Public Defender Frank Ospino shot back to the Weekly that the DA's stand on Godinez was wrong and that various court rulings have rendered Child Safety Zones enacted by Irvine, Tustin and the County of Orange "unconstitutional and void." (To drill down farther on each side's legal arguments, click on "Orange County Pervs-in-Parks Ban Violates State Constitution: Judicial Panel.")

A statement the OCDA sent to the Weekly today reveals the Orange County Probation Department (OCPD) filed a "Petition for Arraignment on a Probation Violation" March 19 and that Godinez admitted to the following violations two days later:

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