Jonathan Fidone, who had his molesting conviction overturned after an appeals court ruled his attorney was deficient, can petition to stop registering as a sex offender in 10 years.
Fidone will return to court Thursday with a motion seeking more information on his sex offender registration requirements, according to court records.
Those court documents and sentencing records reveal that Fidone could be eligible for removal from the sex offender registry 10 years after his release. That’s because Fidone, 30, has what’s called a “Tier 1” conviction as part of a plea deal with the district attorney’s office.
Under those Tier 1 designations, sex offenders are eligible to petition the court for an end to their sex offender registration 10 years after their release. For Fidone, that would mean 2029. But after accepting the plea deal, which led to his release from prison earlier this year, the San Benito County resident is now raising questions about the timing on his prospective petition to be relinquished from registering, and his attorney filed for a motion hearing to clear up the confusion.
That’s because the law that pertains to the tier system for sex offenders, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017, won’t take effect in California until 2021. Even if Fidone petitions after 10 years, though, there’s no guarantee he will be granted the request.
Fidone, it turns out, was arrested last Wednesday for failing to register as a sex offender. He was released from custody after posting $10,000 in bail. Sex offenders are required to register every year within five days of their birthday.
The San Benito County Sheriff’s Office arrested Fidone last week. Fidone, age 23 at the time of his sentencing in 2012 for molesting a 19-month-old child, had been out of prison since late January after receiving a plea deal from the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office.
That happened after the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled that Fidone’s locally appointed defense attorney, Arthur Cantu, had been deficient for providing an “incriminating” investigator’s report to the prosecution prior to the jury trial.
Following that ruling, pre-trial hearings had been scheduled but D.A. Candice Hooper’s office made a plea deal with Fidone that resulted in lesser charges of felony child abuse, a requirement he register as a sex offender, and his release from custody. Deputy District Attorney Karen Forcum has handled the prosecution’s case.
Forcum has responded to questions over email and noted that the appellate decision also barred the DA’s office from using the report put together by Cantu’s private investigator, David Godoy. But the ruling did not appear to prohibit the DA’s office from re-interviewing the key witness in the Godoy report, the man who walked in on Fidone when he’s believed to have been molesting the young child.
A jury in the spring of 2012 found Fidone guilty of molesting the young child in July 2010, and a judge sentenced him to a term of 23 years to life in prison. He served seven years at Kern County State Prison before his release this year.