Does Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Violate Ex Post Facto Laws?
A federal appeals court has ruled to strike down some of the restrictions of Michigan’s sex offender laws. Accordingly, those convicted of a sex crime and are required to register as a sex offender may be entitled to relief. The courts reversed years of precedent and held that sex offender registration is a form of punishment that extends long after the person has been sentenced, and is therefore subject to Ex Post Facto analysis.
Examining the Restrictions Placed on Sex Offender Registrants
After investigations into “Megan’s Law” between 2006 and 2011 arose, the imposed penalties for sex offender registration spurred the attention of lawmakers. This is due to the fact that people convicted of sex crimes and on the sex offender registry were retroactively ordered to be subjected to ever increasing restrictions, such as living or working within 1, 000 feet of a school, as an example.
Some of the other limits that were imposed on convicted sex offenders:
- Convicted offenders were ranked based on a presumed level of dangerousness, and without any further evaluation on the person’s current character or day-to-day living
- Each person was required to appear in person to provide information when applying for major purchases or new accounts, such as a bank account or purchasing a vehicle
The laws prevented registrants from taking part or participating in everyday activities, even something as simple as being able to visit children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. to attend school functions, such as sports games and school plays. The Sixth Circuit placed great emphasis on the idea that all of these restrictions of the sex offender registration combine to create a situation where a person is essentially ostracized from society and from their local community.
At the case’s conclusion, the Sixth Circuit courts deemed that such imposing these restrictions “may never be retroactively imposed or increased,” and all of the amendments made by Michigan to the sex offender registration have combined to take the registry into the arena pf punishment.
In an article covering this major legal development, the Detroit Free Press correctly observed that statistics and studies have overwhelming shown that “registries do little to protect communities and often create ongoing misery for some who served their sentences and are unlikely to re-offend.”
Contact a Michigan Sex Crimes Lawyer
Satawa Law, PLLC has over 20 years of experience defending those who have been wrongfully or unlawfully accused of sex crimes. Lead attorney, Mark Satawa, takes the time to get to know his clients and the circumstances surrounding their case. He knows that every person has the right to protect their rights and fight to obtain a favorable outcome.
The Washington Post