Sex offender registration update. The Federal Adam Walsh Act and Ohio’s SB 10. The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act of 2006. Sex Offender Registration & Notification Act (SORNA)
The Federal Adam Walsh Act and Ohio’s SB 10
Reclassification provisions allowing AG to reclassify Megan’s Law sex offenders into SB 10 tier system violated separation of powers. Megan’s Law registration requirement is final judgment that cannot be reopened by the AG. Silent as to impact of SB 10 on pre-Megan’s Law offenders or offenders not required to register pre-SB 10 but reclassified by AG. Reclassification provisions severed, but remainder of SB 10 left in tact.
Retroactive application of SB 10 declared unconstitutional under Ohio Constitution’s ban on ex post facto laws. Unlike its predecessor, SB 10 is punitive rather than remedial. SB 10 requires in-person registration with law enforcement in various jurisdictions (home, work, school, travel); community notification is expanded; residency restrictions apply prospectively; unlimited residency verification by sheriff. Because SB 10 imposes automatic, offense-specific registration duties, it is not remedial or intended to protect the public, but constitutes punishment that cannot be applied retroactively.
Lifetime sex offender registration for juveniles violates 8th Amendment cruel and unusual punishment provision and constitutional right to due process. CP, age 15, was convicted of two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping and labeled a public-registry-qualified juvenile offender registrant (PRQJOR), thus automatically subject to lifetime registration. Citing recent US Sup Ct precedent limiting life sentences for juveniles (Roper v. Simmons and Graham v. Florida), the Ohio Sup Ct found lifetime registration to constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Numerous states refused to adopt AWA due to its stringent juvenile registration requirements, evidence of evolving standards of decency regarding juvenile sex offenders. Lifetime registration requirement also violated due process by mandating that juvenile courts label certain delinquent youth as PRQJOR’s.
Sex offender registration cannot be applied to a defendant who committed a sex offense between July 1, 2007 (repeal of Megan’s Law) and January 1, 2008 (effective date of Ohio’s Adam Walsh Act/SB10). Under State v. Williams, SB 10 cannot apply retroactively. Since Megan’s Law was repealed at the time of the crime, Bruce S. cannot be forced to register. Note: Case proceeds in pseudonym to protect Bruce S.’s privacy interest in not registering.
Adam Walsh Act/state equivalent does not constitute punishment and therefore does not violate ex post facto and/or double jeopardy (follows Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003).
Ohio vs. the Federal Courts