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MO Sex Offender Sues Over Residence Rules

October 2, 2009

stltoday.com : Sex Offender Sues Over Residence Rules.

A Missouri sex offender contended Tuesday that a state law requiring him to live more than 1,000 feet from schools and child care centers is unconstitutional.

An attorney for the sex offender told the Missouri Supreme Court the law should be struck down for two reasons: Its 1,000-foot buffer is too vague, and it imposes restrictions on offenders that were not in place when they were convicted. (i.e. Ex Post Facto – read previous post from Kentucky Supreme Court ruling)

It is the latest case in which the Supreme Court is faced with deciding how to implement new sex offender policies for people convicted of prior sex offenses. Previously, the high court has held that the buffer zone could not be enforced against people who already were living near schools, because Missouri’s constitution bars “retroactive” laws.

Missouri first enacted in 2004 a law barring many sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of public and private schools or any child-care facilities. The ban applies to any location where the sex offender sleeps. Violators face up to four years in prison the first time and 15 years for repeat offenses.

The sex offender — identified in court by only his initials, “F.R.” — was convicted of five felony sex crimes in 1999 and notified the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department of his plans to move into his fiancée’s home in O’Fallon., Mo. Police initially approved the move, but several days later when neighbors complained, “F.R.” was told he had two days to move out or he would be arrested.

That was because the property line for the O’Fallon home is 913 feet from the property line of the Kid’s Academy child-care facility. But the corners of the home and child-care center are 1,078 feet apart, and the front doors for the two buildings are 1,097 feet apart.

Attorney Michael Gross, who represented the sex offender in oral arguments, said living restrictions for “F.R.” were unconstitutional because they were not in place when he was convicted. Gross also argued that the law is unclear about whether the 1,000-foot buffer should be measured from building to building or from lot line to lot line. ( is there anyone else out there think this is all ridiculous?)

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