Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ID - State's top court: Sex offender not exempt from registering

Original Article


The Idaho Supreme Court upheld a 1st District Court ruling from Kootenai County that said a 2009 amendment to the state's sex offender registration law does apply to a Coeur d'Alene man, according to a Monday opinion.

[name withheld], 55, was sentenced in July 1991 to 10 years in prison for felony lewd conduct with a minor, but the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for five years. His probation ended in July 1996, and the case was dismissed in February 2011.

At the time [name withheld] was sentenced, Idaho didn't have a sex offender registration statute.

But in 1993, the Idaho Legislature passed the Sex Offender Registration Act. The act applied retroactively to people convicted prior to July 1993, and those who were still on probation.

The act required sex offenders to register while on probation and "for a period of 10 years after the date of discharge from probation, parole or release from incarceration, whichever is greater."

In 1998, the Legislature repealed the Sex Offender Registration Act, and enacted the Sexual Offender Registration Notification and Community Right-to-Know Act.

The new act applied retroactively to people convicted of crimes before the statute was enacted. It also applied to those on probation.

So, because [name withheld] was still on probation, the statute applied to him and he had to register as a sex offender.

[name withheld] sought an exemption, but his offense, lewd conduct, is considered an aggravated offense so he wasn't eligible. The District Court in Kootenai County denied his petition for an exemption.

"When a legislative act is expressly stated to be retroactive, subsequent amendments to that act are also retroactive, as long as retroactive application would not violate the Constitution," according to the Supreme Court opinion.

The justices added, "Mr. [name withheld] does not contend that applying the amendment to him would violate any constitutional provision. Therefore, the district court did not err in dismissing Mr. [name withheld]'s petition."


Macintosh said...

The news is a huge personal setback for the defendant, but also a huge opportunity to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. That could open the door for relief for some or all registrants.

The court in this case gave the benefit of the doubt to the legisture about whether registration is a punishment or just a glorified sign-in sheet as was presented to the Supreme Court a decade ago. Making such a change in defense strategy might require going through lower courts again. The only way to get to present the case before the Supreme Court is to have a live defendant who is affected by the registration laws actually take the case to that level. The Supreme Court would not take up a case about registration if it was filed simply because someone believed the law was unconstitutional. They require an actual person and actual circumstances.

Scott said...

When challenging these laws the best strategy is to argue everything and see what sticks with the court. For examples just look to Ohio cases. This man and his lawyer wasted everyone's time with this narrowly tailored argument.