Archive for September 11, 2008

Nevada Sex Offender Law Overturned

September 11, 2008 Comments off Nevada Sex Offender Law Overturned Sex Offender Law Dropped

Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge kept a new state sex offender law from going into effect. The law would have forced other offenders – who committed crimes and served their time long ago – to sign up with the state’s sex offender registry, even though the registry may not have been around at the time of their conviction.

A federal judge ruled that changes to Nevada’s sex offender law are unconstitutional. The changes would have grouped all of the offenders together so that, no matter how minor the offense, everyone convicted would have to register as a sex offender, dating all the way back to 1956.

Cameron Wolter was convicted 22 years ago. “My offense was with an adult. She said it wasn’t consensual after the fact.” Camerson says he obeyed all of the registration rules, yet was afraid that the new law would cost him again.

The ACLU agrees, and that’s why it brought the lawsuit against the state of Nevada.

“I think the court recognized that the state of Nevada is safer under the old statutory scheme because it does provide an assessment of each individual law,” explains Robert Langford with the ACLU. “We need to go back on the table and really think about re-victimization. And also, do we set ourselves up for failure by putting a law that they all become tier three – and parole and probation could not possibly keep up with it?”

Because these changes are not going to be implemented, Nevada could lose about $300,000 in Justice Department grants. It’s possible that the federal government will appeal the ruling or try to pass the laws again.

Columbus, OH: Sex Offender Registration Ruling.

September 11, 2008 Comments off (Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio): Columbus, OH: Sex Offender Registration Ruling.

A man convicted of rape seven years ago won a partial victory yesterday in a Franklin County lawsuit challenging a new state law that retroactively imposed stricter registration requirements for sex offenders. Rubin T. Toles must register his address with the sheriff more frequently and for the rest of his life, but many other requirements contained in the law are unconstitutional in his case, Common Pleas Judge Charles A. Schneider ruled.

Toles’ lawsuit is among numerous challenges that have been filed across the state since Ohio adopted the Adam Walsh Act late last year, but it’s the first to be ruled on in Franklin County. In May, a Cuyahoga County judge found the retroactive aspects of the law to be unconstitutional in the case of a man convicted of sexual battery in 2003.

“I anticipate that one or both of the parties in the case will appeal,” Schneider said. “It won’t rest until the Court of Appeals and ultimately the Supreme Court rules on this decision. So, I encourage them to appeal. Only the Supreme Court can render the ultimate decision.”

Toles pleaded guilty in 2001 to the rape of a 12-year-old girl. The court classified him as a sexually oriented offender and determined that he was not a sexual predator. Under state law at the time, Megan’s Law, he was required to register annually for 10 years when he was released.

Under the Adam Walsh Act, which took effect Jan. 1 in Ohio, Toles was reclassified as a Tier III offender, requiring him to register quarterly for the rest of his life. He also became subject to community notification, under which the sheriff is required to notify his neighbors and others in the community of his residence.

Schneider ruled that Toles, 38, is not subject to community notification because a hearing at the time of his conviction determined he was not a sexual predator. The judge also ruled that much of the information required on the registration form under the new law posed an unreasonable burden in Toles’ case, such as license-plate numbers of vehicles available to him, where those vehicles are usually kept, telephone numbers he uses, and “any other information required by (the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation) without limitation.”

“How does anyone know what telephone numbers he might use?” Schneider wrote. “Most troubling is the open invitation to BCI to add additional requirements without limitation.”

However, the change in frequency and duration of registration was not punitive or burdensome enough to violate the state’s retroactivity clause, the judge ruled.

The county public defender’s office is handling more than 500 challenges to the law, he said.
Nearly 1,000 such cases had been filed in Cuyahoga County when the ruling was issued there in May, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

Amy Borror, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Public Defender, said that “26,000 people were reclassified under the new law. Nobody has a good number for how many have filed challenges, but it’s in the thousands.”