In 2006, Michigan passed a law that prohibited sex offenders from living, working, or loitering within 1,000 feet of school property. In 2011, they added the requirement that sex offenders be divided into tiers according to the crimes they committed, as opposed to individualized assessments. This meant that some offenders who were effectively rehabilitated would still need to be registered as sex offenders for life.
Earlier this year, however, a federal court ruled that Michigan cannot enforce these new restrictions on sex offenders who had been convicted before the restrictions became law. The State of Michigan requested that the Supreme Court block this ruling, but Justice Elena Kagan denied it. This means that for now, Michigan cannot retroactively apply more restrictions on sex offenders.
The State of Michigan Fights to Place More Restrictions on Sex Offenders
Although Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s emergency petition failed, the case may still go through the appeals process. Schuette stated that he wanted to ensure that Michigan could keep enforcing its sex offender laws while it prepares its appeal “without being forced to make costly, time-consuming, and complex changes to its sex-offender registry and enforcement protocols that may prove unnecessary should this Court decide to grant review.”
If the appeal is heard, the Supreme Court may eventually side with Michigan and allow the sex offender restrictions to apply retroactively. Until then, however, the Michigan State Police has effectively halted taking any retroactive “enforcement action related to the 2006 and 2011 amendments to Michigan’s Sex Offenders Registration Act” in relation to the state’s 42,900 sex offenders.
Are Michigan’s Sex Offender Requirements Too Strict?
According to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Michigan’s revisions to its sex offender laws, which included restricted movements around schools and lifelong registration, treated offenders as “moral lepers.” The court found that these regulations did not serve a valid public policy goal such as reducing recidivism or protecting the public.
Indeed, Michigan’s sex offender laws are draconian. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program sued the state on behalf of several offenders who were placed on the registry permanently but who were guilty of relatively mild offenses. For example, two of the plaintiffs were charged with having sex with underage teenagers, while they themselves were also teens.
Michigan places so many sex offenders on its registry that it no longer serves as a tool for identifying and tracking the few offenders who might actually pose a threat to the public. And, getting removed from the sex registry is an arduous process. The best way to avoid being registered as a sex offender is to never get convicted of a sex offense in the first place. For this, you need a skilled and experienced Detroit criminal defense lawyer by your side.
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At Davis Law Group, our goal is to give each and every one of our clients the best chances possible when they go up against the criminal justice system. This means taking an aggressive and strategic approach to the defense of their case.