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Detroit Legal Blog

Sex Offender Registry in Michigan

Aug 05, 2015, by Maurice Davis in Constitutional Law, Criminal Defense, Legal Blog, Sex Crimes

Sex offender registries began as a tool and resource for law enforcement in the 1990s. Accessible only to police, registries allowed them to keep track of dangerous offenders and cull lists of potential suspects when needed. Eventually, laws were passed that made these databases accessible to the general public. Some citizens believe the sex offender registry helps keep neighborhoods safer, while others argue that the registry destroys lives and does little to protect the public. Michigan’s sex offender registry has recently come under fire for being potentially overbroad and vague.

Michigan’s sex offender registry is a publicly accessible database that anyone with an internet connection can view. The Michigan State Police manage the website and it gets almost 230,000 unique visitors a month. The registry contains several personal details of 43,000 listed offenders, including a photograph, address, conviction, physical description, and birth date. The registry doesn’t give details about the circumstances of an offender’s arrest, although it lists violent repeat predators and teenagers who had consensual sex but broke statutory rape laws in the same location.

The registry is checked frequently by concerned parents, neighbors, employers, and landlords. Sex offenders can spend decades on the list for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. Being on the list can make securing employment or housing all but impossible. Registrants must follow certain restrictions about where they may live, visit, and when they must disclose their status as a sex offender. One Michigan man convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault for allegedly groping a teenage girl over the sweater will spend over 20 years as a registered sex offender. Previously, he had no criminal record. Since being added to the list he has struggled with unemployment, poverty, harassment, and the collapse of his marriage.

Michigan Sex Offender Registry

Michigan’s sex offender registry can be a valuable tool for keeping track of violent predators, but current laws have the tendency to turn it into a productivity drag on individuals, families, and communities. Two consenting adults were recently added to the Florida registry for having sex on a beach. Does sentencing people like this to a lifetime of underemployment and other restrictions really help anyone? Making it impossible for previously productive and law abiding citizens to hold a job could very likely have the reverse impact on crime rates and overall social stability.

Michigan’s laws may soon be changing. A higher court recently ruled some of them vague and unconstitutional. Regardless, landing on the sex offender registry will seriously impact your life for years to come. If you’ve been charged with a sex offense in Michigan, contact a Michigan sex crime lawyer at (313) 818-3238 as soon as possible.