Portions Of Michigan's Sex Offender Registry Laws Declared Unconstitutional

Anyone who has a criminal record may consequently experience difficulty obtaining housing or employment. However, most individuals who are convicted of a crime serve time in prison or on probation and are then free to go about their business with few restrictions. The same, however, cannot be said of individuals who are convicted of sex crimes.

In Michigan, even after an individual who is convicted of a sex crime has served out the terms of a sentence, he or she is subject to the many and often punitive and vague restrictions of the state’s sex offender registry laws. Recently, several provisions of the state's Sex Offender Registry Act were challenged for being unconstitutional in nature.

In a ruling late last month, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that several portions of Michigan's sex offender laws are indeed unconstitutional. Among those portions at issue is one that bars individuals who must register as sex offenders from being within 1,000 feet of certain areas including school zones.

In the ruling, the federal judge pointed to the vagueness and lack of guidance of the SORA's "geographic exclusion zones" provision. The judge asserted that both registered sex offenders and law enforcement officials lack "strong enough guidelines to know how to measure the 1,000," requirement. Additionally, the federal judge also declared portions of the SOAR unconstitutional that relate to an individual's vehicle use and e-mail communication and account.

While these few provisions of Michigan's SOAR were declared unconstitutional, those who oppose the judge's ruling have vowed to appeal the decision. We'll continue to provide updates and additional information about sex offender laws in Michigan as developments occur.

Source: MLive, "Sex offenders can be within 1,000 feet of schools after federal judge strikes down parts of law," Kyle Feldscher, April 7, 2015

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