So when is the sex offender moral panic and witch hunt going to stop? Every single year politicians are passing more and more laws to further punish, demonize, exile and ostracize ex-sex offenders, been doing it for many years now, and wasting tons and tons of tax payer money, and we wonder why we are about to jump off the cliff?
By Jona Ison
CHILLICOTHE — Recent Supreme Court decisions likely will result in some changes to past classifications and sentences for sex offenders.
The decisions were released along with several other Ohio Supreme Court decisions as part of a year-end transition process. The decisions clarify some issues regarding the changeover from Megan’s Law to the Adam Walsh Act regarding sentencing and classifications of sex offenders.
In one case, the court’s decision clarified that any sex offense committed between the July 2007 repeal of Megan’s Law and the January 2008 effective date of the Adam Walsh Act shall be classified under Megan’s Law. An earlier ruling by the court had determined the law under which offenders are classified is determined by when the act was committed, not when the conviction occurs.
In a different case, the court ruled that when offenders are classified under Megan’s Law and violate address notification rules under that law, the offender must be sentenced under the penalty provisions of Megan’s Law, not the Adam Walsh Act.
However, another case ruling determined any indictments charging a violation of notification requirements of the Adam Walsh Act of offenders classified under Megan’s Law continue to be valid. The court reasoned the indictments were valid because the two laws have identical address change notification requirements.
Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt said the rulings “seem consistent” with past rulings. As the state moved from Megan’s Law to Adam Walsh, there was a flurry of changes back and forth.
“It’s created a massive headache,” Schmidt said.
At first, all offenders were re-classified under the Adam Walsh Act (which carries a three-tier classification), but then a court ruling determined that was unconstitutional. As a result, those offenders had to be reverted back to classification under Megan’s Law.
The Megan’s Law classification system requires a sexual classification hearing and the judge determines the classification of the offender, such as sexual predator.
The new rulings, however are unlikely to create such a large issue.
Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk (Facebook) anticipates his office will see some motions filed on past cases, but not an overwhelming amount.
“I’ll imagine we’ll see a few,” Junk said.
Cases where any of the issues are present will not automatically be altered. Defendants will need to file a motion for a change.
“It’s not our jobs to hunt them down and inform them of the changes in the law,” Junk said.
Sex offenders seeking more information about the rulings and how to file something in their case can contact their individual attorneys or the Office of the Ohio Public Defender at 800-686-1573 or visit www.opd.ohio.gov.