Oklahoma House Approves Bill Strengthening Sex Offender Restrictions18-Apr-2014
Earlier this week, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill amending the law pertaining to the "Zone of Safety" requirement which forbids sex offenders from entering within 500 feet of schools, daycare facilities, playgrounds or parks.
Senate Bill 1364 would amend 21 O.S. 1125 to modify and clarify the definition of a park; to modify by increasing the age of certain victims; and to prohibit specified sex offenders from entering certain parks.
Currently, the zone of safety law prevents a person from loitering within 500 feet of schools, permitted or licensed child care centers, playgrounds, or parks, if such person was convicted of a sex crime against a child under the age of 13.
SB 1364 propose amending the law to clarify and specify what constitutes a park. The amended statute would read:
A zone of safety is hereby created around elementary, junior high and high schools, permitted or licensed child care centers as defined by the Department of Human Services, playgrounds, and any property operated or supported in whole or in part by a city, town, county or state governmental authority as a park.
The amendment would also expand the sex offenders to whom the law applies:
- The age of the victim would increase from "under the age of 13" to "under the age of 16." The zone of safety requirement would apply to anyone convicted of a sex crime with a minor aged 15 or younger. This would include people convicted of statutory rape for sex with a willing partner under the age of 16.
- Habitual sex offenders and aggravated sex offenders would be banned from all parks, including state parks, regardless of the age of their victims.
The added language would read as follows:
A person is prohibited from entering any property operated or supported in whole or in part by a city, town, county or state governmental authority as a park if:
a. the person has been designated as a habitual or aggravated sex offender as provided in Section 584 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes, or
b. the person has been convicted of an offense in another jurisdiction, which offense, if committed or attempted in this state, would designate the person as a habitual or aggravated sex offender as provided in Section 584 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
The authors of the bill said it was written at the request of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism, who said that state park officials were having a number of run-ins with registered sex offenders loitering in the parks as other areas of the state are off-limits to them.
Oklahoma sex offender laws and registration requirements are continually evolving. Typically, legislative changes to sex offender laws mean harsher penalties and tighter restrictions. If you are an Oklahoma sex offender, contact your lawyer to find out how changing legislation may affect you.
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