Can a Federal Judge Force Michigan to Rewrite Our Sex Offender Registry Laws? Yes Indeed! (Pt 1)

Lady Justice holding up a pair of golden scales in front of a blue sky

Michigan’s sex offender registry has been a source of enormous controversy for years now! The state has been sued repeatedly for unconstitutional laws that violate people’s rights, and numerous inflammatory articles were written on the subject. But nothing changed. Then in August of 2016, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati (which has jurisdiction over Michigan) found that Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) is unconstitutional. 

What did Michigan do when the court gave us 90 days to fix SORA?

Nothing. Of course, the state appealed to the Supreme Court which refused to hear the case, effectively upholding the Federal Appeals Court’s decision. But since nothing changed anyway, people were starting to lose hope that anything would ever get done. And then U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland decided that enough was enough, and gave Michigan 90 days to fix our broken sex offender registry laws and stop violating people’s rights. Of course, once again nothing was done to address the issue, but the ball was already rolling…

What parts of the Sex Offender Registry were ruled unconstitutional?

Michigan has very strict reporting requirements for registered sex offenders, many of which make it almost impossible for someone to live a productive life after they’re released from prison after serving time for a sex crime. Rules like:

  • A convicted offender is prohibited from living, working, or even standing within 1,000 feet of a school.
  • All vehicles, email accounts, social media accounts, and job changes must be registered immediately with the Michigan State Police.
  • All rules are retroactive, which means even offenders who haven’t committed crimes for many years are required to comply with new restrictions.

The Judge has ruled again and this time we have no choice!

It’s been over six months since Judge Cleland noted that Michigan failed to comply with the Federal Appeals Court decision, which found that Michigan was treating convicted sex offenders like “moral lepers” by putting excessive restrictions on them. And since Michigan took no action whatsoever, Judge Cleland did. In a ruling handed down on February 14th, 2020, the Judge struck down many of SORA’s unconstitutional rules, rendering huge portions of the state’s Sex Offender Act unenforceable in future!

Being a registered sex offender is no joke, with or without added restrictions!

Join us next time for a look at what parts of Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry have been struck down, and how this will affect both present and future sex offenders. But until then, know that there’s still a lot of work to be done here, and these changes don’t go into effect immediately! So if you get accused of any kind of sex crime in Michigan, you should call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Just because parts of SORA have been declared unconstitutional, doesn’t mean you couldn’t end up behind bars for decades after being convicted of a sex crime! So make sure you have the best possible sex crime defense attorney working on your case right from the start! We began winning sex crime trials during the last century!