Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry to Change

Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry to Change

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Did you know Michigan’s sex offender registry law was ruled unconstitutional in August 2016? Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry is a database containing the names, addresses, and offense(s) of everyone in Michigan convicted of certain sexual offenses. This information is made available to the public. Offenders are classified into one of three “tiers,” which is determined by the offense or the number of offenses. The tier determines how long a person remains in the registry.

Incarceration time is not counted when determining the last registration date. Tier I offenders are required to be registered for 15 years reporting to the Michigan State Police (MSP) once per year. Tier II offenders are required to be registered 25 years reporting to MSP twice per year. Tier III offenders have lifetime registration and must report to MSP four times per year. However, this could all be changing very soon.

According to a federal ruling, Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act includes many unconstitutional provisions, including its geographical restrictions. Currently, offenders are prevented from living, working, or standing within 1,000 feet of a school. This has prevented many from attending their children’s sporting events, school recitals, or even dropping them off at school. Because Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) does not clarify how student safety zones should be measured, this could all change soon. Regardless of how the zones are measured, it would be unreasonable to expect registrants to able to determine the boundaries of the student safety zones, which makes it nearly impossible to know if they are in violation of geographical restrictions. These restrictions were enacted in 2006.

In 2011, the “tier” system was created, which retroactively classified offenders based solely on the offense. It does not consider their background or how long ago the crime was committed. Some people that were set to be released from the registry now have to be registered for life.

Michigan SORA’s 2006 and 2011 amendments increased or created new punishments for former offenders. Punishments can never retroactively be imposed or increased. Thus, these amendments are unconstitutional (as applied retroactively) and the application of these amendments should stop.

Since the United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division has determined these provisions unconstitutional, the state has still been proceeding as if the court’s decision only applied to the plaintiffs who were suing the Governor of Michigan and Director of Michigan State Police in their official capacities because the decision came through a civil case, not a class action lawsuit. In May 2019, a United States District Judge ruled that the Michigan Legislature must pass a new sex offender registration law within 90 days. When this happens, many registrants’ status should be changing. In some instances, registrants can petition the court for early release from the sex offender registry. If you need an experienced attorney who has worked with sex offender registry removal, call the Law Office of John Freeman.