Can a Federal Judge Force Michigan to Rewrite Our Sex Offender Registry Laws? Yes Indeed! (Pt 2)

A golden statue of lady justice, holding up a sword and a set of scales

Welcome back and thanks for joining the criminal defense attorneys at The Kronzek Firm. We’ve been discussing the amazing ruling handed down recently by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland, who has been pushing Michigan to change our unconstitutional sex offender registry laws for some time now. As we explained in the previous article, this isn’t the first time that Judge Cleland has tried to hold Michigan accountable, forcing our lawmakers to address the extremely restrictive laws surrounding how and where convicted sex offenders can live and work after their release. But until now it hasn’t made a difference. After this most recent ruling, it certainly will!

What parts of our sex offender laws are now unenforceable in Michigan?

Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act (called SORA for short) requires that anyone convicted of certain sex crimes to report certain information to the Michigan State Police on a regular basis. This included things like social media handles, email addresses and new social media accounts. The rules also prohibited convicted sex offenders from living or working or “loitering” within 1,000 feet of a school. However, based on Judge Cleland’s most recent ruling, NONE of that is enforceable anymore against anyone on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry!

What about those convicted before the law changed in 2011?

In 2006, Michigan law was amended to restrict sex offenders even more than they had been. New laws forbade sex offenders from living, working or simply “loitering” within 1,000 feet of a school. In 2011 the law was changed again, this time to reflect categories of offenses within the registry. The categories, referred to as ‘tiers,’ were intended to reflect the seriousness of the offense. But under Judge Cleland’s most recent ruling, anyone whose offense took place before those 2011 provisions were added to the law, the entire SORA is unenforceable. 

So what’s going to happen to Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry now?

Judge Cleland’s ruling goes into effect in 60 days, “principally to allow time for the legislature to craft and enact a new statute.” he wrote. That means our lawmakers and the governor have about two months to craft new sex offender registration laws, this time lining the requirements up with the US Constitution, or the entire system will fall apart as most reporting requirements become unenforceable. Until then, law enforcement won’t be able to force convicted registered sex offenders to keep away from schools, or provide MSP with updated contact information. And anyone who committed sex crimes before 2011 will be taken off the registry entirely!

If there’s one piece of advice we’d like to leave you with, it’s this: 

While we’re glad to know that Michigan is finally being required to recognize people’s rights, and honor the US Constitution, it’s important to realize that this doesn’t change much for people being accused of sex crimes. If you’re charged with a sex crime in Michigan, you will still get smeared in the news. You will still go to trial, or have to accept a plea deal. And you may still end up behind bars for decades. So while SORA may change for the better, being accused of a sex crime is still a terrible ordeal! So call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 and let our experienced and respected sex crime defense attorneys help you protect your future, and your reputation. We’ve been fighting and we’ve been winning sex assault trials all over the lower peninsula of Michigan for the last 25 years. Call our team as soon as you’re ready to hire a warrior to fight your fight. We can be reached 24 / at 866 7NoJail