|For Immediate Release
November 30, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
STATEMENT BY DISTRICT ATTORNEY TONY RACKAUCKAS REGARDING REVERSAL OF HUGO GODINEZ CONVICTION
Statement by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas regarding the Hugo Godinez conviction reversal
“On Nov. 15, 2012, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of Orange County reversed defendant Hugo Godinez’s conviction for violating Orange County Ordinance 3-18-3. The ordinance prohibits registered sex offenders from entering County parks where children regularly gather. The appellate division opined that the County ordinance was preempted by state law. The appellate division’s decision applies in the Godinez case but does not apply to other pending or future prosecutions of the County sex offender ordinance.
“Recognizing that this case presents an important question of law, the appellate division certified the case for transfer to the Court of Appeal to settle whether local jurisdictions are preempted by state law from passing laws prohibiting registered sex offenders from entering parks where children regularly gather. The Court of Appeal has discretion to accept or deny the transfer.
“I believe that protecting children from sex offenders is one of the highest priorities in law enforcement. We will continue to review cases involving sex offenders in parks as they are presented on a case-by-case basis. We also hope to present our position concerning preemption to the Court of Appeal and receive its decision on this important issue.”
Background on the Godinez criminal case
Godinez is a registered sex offender who signed two Department of Justice forms acknowledging he understood the terms and conditions of his registration and met with a deputy probation officer to discuss and sign a copy of the County ordinance restricting registered sex offenders’ access to locations where children regularly gather.
On May 5, 2011, Godinez entered and spent several hours in Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley. This park is known to be a gathering place for families, especially on holidays. There were many people in the park, including children, celebrating Cinco de Mayo. VeriTracks Global Positioning Satellite System print-outs showed the defendant’s movements. He later admitted to an Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputy that he went to the park for several hours knowing he was not supposed to be there and that it was a violation of the ordinance.
Godinez was found guilty in a court trial Nov. 14, 2011, of one misdemeanor count of prohibited sex offender entering a County park and one misdemeanor count of failing to register and show proof of residency upon release from incarceration. He was sentenced Nov. 17, 2011, to 100 days in jail and five years of formal probation.