St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Sex Offender SORA Requirement Regarding “Routinely Used” Email and Phone Accounts in Violation of Constitution

Sex Offender Registry

Sex offenders are considered to pose a special risk to society due to their high rate of recidivism. As such, this particular group of offenders must adhere to special requirements after they have been convicted of or plead guilty to a sex offense. One such requirement in the state of Michigan has recently come under scrutiny. The Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA), among other stipulations, requires that people who fall within its jurisdiction must report telephone numbers as well as email and instant messaging accounts that are either registered to them or routinely used by the offender.

It is mandatory that offenders comply with the provisions of SORA and failure to comply with all of the requirements is a crime for which an offender can be charged. The Michigan Court of Appeals, however, recently ruled that the aforementioned provision of the SORA is unconstitutionally vague and cannot be enforced. If you or someone you know is a sex offender who is subject to the requirements of the SORA, you need a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Michigan such as Peter J. Johnson, Law Office, PLLC to represent you in court.

Recent Developments Regarding the SORA and the Requirement that Offenders Register Phones Numbers and Electronic Accounts

In a recent case that took place in the state, a defendant who was charged with molesting his nine-year-old son as well as two counts of violating SORA for failing to register the phone number of cell phones which were in his possession as well as email accounts. As a convicted sex offender who was on probation, the defendant was required to comply with the registration requirements of the SORA. One of the cellular phones that was in the defendant’s possession at the time when his home was searched was a phone that was registered in the name of a relative and not registered with authorities. The defendant also had an email account in the name of a relative that he had failed to register.

The defendant sought to have his conviction for the two counts of violating SORA requirements vacated based on the claim that the requirement that phone numbers and electronic accounts that are “routinely used” must be registered is unconstitutionally vague and not clearly defined. The appeals court held that due to the fact that a person of ordinary intelligence who is subject to the SORA reporting requirements would not be able to determine when routine use has been met to trigger the reporting requirement, this portion of the statute was indeed unconstitutionally vague and the defendant’s conviction for these two counts was vacated. Thus, the section of the SORA that requires that all phone numbers, email, and instant messaging accounts that an offender routinely uses must be registered with authorities has been found unconstitutional. If you or someone you know is a sex offender, it is in your best interest to seek the professional advise and counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Michigan who can explain how these recent changes affects you and your reporting responsibilities.

If you are subject to the reporting requirements of the SORA, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer such as Peter J. Johnson, Law Office, PLLC to get the highest quality service and representation for the best possible results. For further information or to schedule an appointment with Peter J. Johnson, Law Office, PLLC please call 269.982.1100 or visit

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