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 www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com.

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Sex Offenders Registry

Michigan Supreme Court Will Review Sex Offender Registry Requirements

Sex Offenders Registry

Since Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA) became law, those convicted of relevant crimes in the past have been affected after the fact. Those who pled guilty to crimes before the law existed are subject to consequences they were not prepared for at the time of their case. As a result, the Supreme Court of Michigan will review the details of SORA in the effort to clarify the meaning of requirements.

What SORA Means for Past Offenders

A criminal defense lawyer who advised a client to accept a guilty plea prior to SORA may proceed differently with the new requirements in mind. This issue has come up several times since the law took effect, including in People v. Temelkoski (2013), when the defendant pled guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct following an incident with a 12-year-old girl.

Though SORA was not in effect at the time, the law’s passing later meant the individual would enter the sex offender registry for life. Had this law been in place, a criminal defense lawyer may advise a client to take the case to trial. When there is a dispute in the circumstances of a case, going to trial may be worth it to the defendant. A guilty plea opens the door to consequences that could be considered severe.

How SORA Requirements Could Change

In People vs. Temelkoski, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that SORA served as a civil remedy rather than a punishment as previously defined by the law. Therefore, a defendant was not being punished and would have to register for life under SORA for the good of society. The Supreme Court will review whether this and other requirements hold up under further scrutiny.

Besides the requirement of past offenders to register for life regardless of circumstances, the court will consider how to handle juvenile offenders under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA). Offenders are entitled to have convictions removed from their records upon completion of probation under HYTA. The court will also look into these distinctions.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Michigan such as the highly sought after Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC can help you understand the options after being charged with a crime. For further information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 269.982.1100 or visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com.

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