Sex Offender Registration Pitfall
“Charlie” came into our offices on a Monday morning. He had just
returned from a five-day cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. The trip took a
total of nine days, as he drove to and from the departure port in Florida,
taking his time on both drives.
Upon re-entering the US, a Border Patrol agent stopped “Charlie”
and asked him if he had notified the sheriff’s offices, in Ohio and
Florida, of his planned trip. “Charlie” had not done so, as
paperwork he had indicated a ten (10) day period of time he could be gone.
The Border Patrol agent allowed him to enter the US with explicit instructions
to notify the Ohio sheriff’s office immediately upon his return to Ohio.
According to “Charlie”, he had pled guilty, in another state,
to a crime that earned him a Tier I sex offender rating. He moved to Ohio
with two years remaining on his reporting sentence.
Since moving to Ohio, he had completed every registration request made
of him, up to this point.
On January 1, 2008, SB-10 took over for Adam’s Law, automatically adding
another five years of reporting for Charlie. 139 days after SB-10 took
effect, Charlie received a letter from the other state, terminating his
Ohio law indicates, “Except as provided in division (C)(2) of this
section, an eligible offender who is classified a tier I sex offender/child-victim
offender may make a motion under division (B) of this section upon the
expiration of ten years after the eligible offender’s duty to comply
with division (A)(2) or (4) of section 2950.04 or division (A)(2) or (4)
of section 2950.041 and sections 2950.05 and 2950.06 of the Revised Code
begins in relation to the offense for which the eligible offender is subject
to those provisions.” 2950.15(C)(1)
Did “Charlie” receive any type of notification from the Ohio
sheriff’s office regarding the potential of filing this motion? We
highly doubt it.
It has been said, “Ignorance is no excuse for the law” but that
old adage is usually saved for the prosecutor’s and judges when they
are talking with defense attorneys or defendants. With the wide, sweeping
changes SB-10 made to Adam’s Law, who can keep up? Who is ignorant
and who is in the know?
Hindsight is always 20/20. SB-10 sounded like a good idea to a group of
lawmakers, taking effect in a year in which many of these lawmakers would
be seeking re-election. Would they have allowed the bill to pass had they
known countless taxpayers dollars would be spent trying cases only to
have an appeals court rip the law as unconstitutional?
“Charlie’s” case does have a bright spot. After heavy negotiations
with the detective handling his case, “Charlie” was allowed
to report to the sheriff’s office, fill out a new registration form,
endure a lecture from the detective handling his case and be allowed to
leave without being locked up in jail for a few days.