This week on the Writer's Detective Bureau, sex registrants, trust issues, and reinterviewing a witness. I'm Adam Richardson and this is the Writer's Detective Bureau.
Welcome to episode number 87 of the Writer's Detective Bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime-related fiction. And this week I'm answering your questions about sex registrants using third parties to help get a witness to give a statement, and whether scenes like a second witness interview should be cut from your story.
Huge thanks to Gold Shield patrons Debra Dunbar from debradunbar.com, C.C. Jameson from ccjameson.com, Larry Keeton, Vicki Tharp of vickitharp.com, Chrysann, Larry Darter, Natalie Barelli of nataliebarelli.com, Craig Kingsman of craigkingsman.com, Lynn Vitale, Marco Carocari of marcocarocari.com, and Robert Mendenhall for their support along with my Silver Cuff Link and Coffee Club patrons. You can find links to all of the Bureau's patrons in the show notes at writersdetective.com/87.
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This week's first question comes from author L.K. Hill, who you can find at authorlkhill.com, and L.K. writes, "Good morning, Adam. This will be multifaceted. There is a 2007 Richard Gere film called The Flock, kind of a B film. But my question concerns the premise, Gere is a retiring cop whose job it is to keep an eye on violent sex offenders in his area. The film deals with something they call domains, which are basically secret underground gathering places for sex offenders and those with strange fetishes, i.e. foot fetishes. Understand, this was largely for the rise of the dark web. We actually see foot fetish magazines in the film, but when I've tried to look up information on such things, my Google searches don't yield much.
"So my question is, are there really underground domains that police departments know about and keep an eye on? Would they be called something else, or is this purely a construct of Hollywood? And if so, can you talk about how police departments keep eyes on known violent offenders in the area? Would detectives even know anything about them, barring them becoming involved in one of the detectives cases? And if a child abduction happened and for any reason the police suspected a local sex offender might be involved, what would the procedure be? Thank you so much for all you do."
Thank you so much, L.K. and thank you for the questions. There's a lot to unpack here. Like you said, it's multifaceted, so let's start with the sex offender stuff first. In the United States, defendants that have been convicted of sex related crimes are required to register as sex offenders. In California Section 290 of the California Penal Code governs sex registrants, and we actually refer to these people as 290s. The most important aspect of being a registered sex offender came about in a 1995 to 1996 era amendment to the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. That amendment, which is more commonly known as Megan's Law, required law enforcement to make that sex offender registry available to the public, which you now know as the Megan's Law database.
So on the surface it seems pretty straightforward, but depending on the crime or crimes the sex offender was convicted of will change whether he has to register for life. And similarly, not all sex registrants are listed on the public-facing side of the Megan's Law database. The ones we're most concerned about though, are definitely on the list for life and the public can see that they are on the list. But if your arrest was for a misdemeanor like indecent exposure, then you'll only have to register for a minimum of 10 years. So, if you're a sex registrant, you're on it for 10 years, 20 years, or you're on it for life, depending on the crime or crimes you're convicted of... Continue reading...
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