Ohio Retro-active Sexual Crime Law OK

February 28, 2009

Cincinnati.com : Sexual Crime Law OK

In a case likely headed for the Ohio Supreme Court, the state’s 2007 law toughening requirements for sex offenders to report their address can be applied retroactively, an appeals court ruled Friday.
Even if the original time when offenders had to report has expired, the law is legal and still applies, the Cincinnati-based 1st District Court of Appeals ruled in a unanimous decision written by Judge Sylvia Hendon.

“By their voluntary acts (crimes), sex offenders have surrendered certain protections that arguably are afforded to other citizens. Their convictions of felony offenses put them into a class that has already been deemed to have no expectation of finality in the consequences of the judgments against them,” the decision read.

Funny…that’s not what the United States Constitution says:
Section 9 – Limits on Congress : “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”

Definition of “Ex post facto”:
ex post facto adj. Formulated, enacted, or operating retroactively. [Med Lat., from what is done afterwards] Source: AHD


Nor is it what the Ohio Constitution says:
§ 2.28 Retroactive laws
The general assembly shall have no power to pass retroactive laws, or laws impairing the obligation of contracts; but may, by general laws, authorize courts to carry into effect, upon such terms as shall be just and equitable, the manifest intention of parties, and officers, by curing omissions, defects, and errors, in instruments and proceedings, arising out of their want of conformity with the laws of this state.

The issue is a fight over the rights of convicted sex offenders versus the public’s right to know where those sex offenders live, work or go to school.

A decade ago, Ohio lawmakers enacted a law that required sex offenders to register their address. The length of time they had to register depended on the crime committed and other factors considered by a judge – including the likelihood of offenders committing future crimes.

In 2007, Ohio lawmakers amended that law to mirror the federal law – commonly called the Adam Walsh Act, named for the 1981 killing of the 6-year-old at the hands of a convicted pedophile. (This is just an outright lie; the man finally attributed to the Walsh murder had no record of sex crimes and there was simply never any evidence of sex assault in that case!)

The impact of the change was that hundreds of sex offenders in Hamilton County and thousands across Ohio were required to report for longer times – often for life – than originally ordered to by a judge. The new classification was based only on the crime – not on judge’s opinions of future danger – and Sewell, who was months away from completing his 10-year reporting requirement, now has to register for life.

He sued, saying the law change can’t be applied to him because he already was classified and argued that it can’t be applied retroactively or his punishment increased.

The appeals court disagreed, deciding the new reporting requirements are no different than those for enhancements of tax codes, or new requirements for passports or driver’s licenses for all citizens.

“They are legitimate exercises of governmental regulatory power to protect a public interest or further a legitimate government interest,” Hendon wrote.

Sewell and his attorney, Margie Slagle, disagree.

“These individuals have a court order. That also gave them the right to be done with that duty after 10 years. They have a court order for that,” Slagle said, adding that it was improper for Ohio’s General Assembly to create laws that violate existing court orders. She likens it to a moratorium on home foreclosures applied, like this law, retroactively.

Slagle will appeal the case to the Ohio Supreme Court. Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor David Stevenson believes that court will hear the issue.

“I would expect it would be appealed, and I would expect them to take it,” Stevenson said.

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