By Jenna Gant
The Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled April 18 that a sex offender from California who moved to Ohio cannot be reclassified as a Tier III offender under the Adam Walsh Act.
[name withheld] was required to register his address annually for a period of ten years when he first moved to Ohio under the former Megan’s Law. In July 2007, the attorney general reclassified [name withheld] under the Adam Walsh Act, which required him to register his address every 90 days for life.
[name withheld] failed to register in July 2010 and was indicted on a single count of failing to register his address. [name withheld] tried to get the charge dismissed, arguing that his 2007 reclassification was unconstitutional under the 2010 Ohio Supreme Court case State v. Bodyke (PDF), which held that the attorney general’s reclassification of an offender from Megan’s Law to the Adam Walsh Act “violated the separation of powers doctrine because it would allow the executive branch to review a decision made by the judicial branch.”
The state argued that [name withheld]'s case is different than Bodyke because [name withheld]'s classification was made in California and not in Ohio.
Administrative Judge Melody J. Stewart wrote in the appeals court’s unanimous decision (PDF) that the Eighth District Court of Appeals has “repeatedly rejected the argument that there is a distinction between in-state and out-of-state offenders.”
Judge Stewart found that [name withheld]'s case is also not affected by the December 2012 Ohio Supreme Court decision State v. Brunning (PDF), in which the court held that “despite an offender who was originally classified under Megan’s Law being wrongly reclassified under the Adam Walsh Act, the state could still maintain a prosecution for a violation of the reporting requirements as long as the alleged violation also constituted a violation of Megan’s Law.”
Judge Stewart noted that Brunning was charged with failing to comply with a change of address requirement that was the same under both Megan’s Law and the Adam Walsh Act, while [name withheld] is required to register annually for 10 years under Megan’s Law, compared to every 90 days for life under the Adam Walsh Act.
Judges Mary J. Boyle and Tim McCormack concurred in the April 18 opinion that reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded the case for further proceedings.