Columbus Criminal Defense Blog

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

11-09-2011

Sex Offender Registration Pitfall

"Charlie" came into our offices on a Monday morning. He had just returned from a five-day cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. The trip took a total of nine days, as he drove to and from the departure port in Florida, taking his time on both drives.

Upon re-entering the US, a Border Patrol agent stopped "Charlie" and asked him if he had notified the sheriff's offices, in Ohio and Florida, of his planned trip. "Charlie" had not done so, as paperwork he had indicated a ten (10) day period of time he could be gone. The Border Patrol agent allowed him to enter the US with explicit instructions to notify the Ohio sheriff's office immediately upon his return to Ohio.

According to "Charlie", he had pled guilty, in another state, to a crime that earned him a Tier I sex offender rating. He moved to Ohio with two years remaining on his reporting sentence.

Since moving to Ohio, he had completed every registration request made of him, up to this point.

On January 1, 2008, SB-10 took over for Adam's Law, automatically adding another five years of reporting for Charlie. 139 days after SB-10 took effect, Charlie received a letter from the other state, terminating his reporting status.

Ohio law indicates, "Except as provided in division (C)(2) of this section, an eligible offender who is classified a tier I sex offender/child-victim offender may make a motion under division (B) of this section upon the expiration of ten years after the eligible offender's duty to comply with division (A)(2) or (4) of section 2950.04 or division (A)(2) or (4) of section 2950.041 and sections 2950.05 and 2950.06 of the Revised Code begins in relation to the offense for which the eligible offender is subject to those provisions." 2950.15(C)(1)

Did "Charlie" receive any type of notification from the Ohio sheriff's office regarding the potential of filing this motion? We highly doubt it.

It has been said, "Ignorance is no excuse for the law" but that old adage is usually saved for the prosecutors and judges when they are talking with defense attorneys or defendants. With the wide, sweeping changes SB-10 made to Adam's Law, who can keep up? Who is ignorant and who is in the know?

Hindsight is always 20/20. SB-10 sounded like a good idea to a group of lawmakers, taking effect in a year in which many of these lawmakers would be seeking re-election. Would they have allowed the bill to pass had they known countless taxpayers dollars would be spent trying cases only to have an appeals court rip the law as unconstitutional?

"Charlie's" case does have a bright spot. After heavy negotiations with the detective handling his case, "Charlie" was allowed to report to the sheriff's office, fill out a new registration form, endure a lecture from the detective handling his case and be allowed to leave without being locked up in jail for a few days.