In John Does Nos. 1-5 v. Synder, No. 15-1536 (6th Cir. Aug. 25, 2016), the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the appellate court that reviews decisions of federal courts in Michigan, held that Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), violated the Constitution’s Ex Post Facto clause.
The plaintiffs were registered “Tier III” sex offenders residing in Michigan who claimed that SORA’s 2006 and 2011 amendments should not apply to them — because the amendments had been applied to them retroactively, that is, even though their conduct had been committed before the laws had been imposed. A panel of the Sixth Circuit agreed, finding that the amendments’ provisions regarding, for example, school zone restrictions and reporting requirements, were, in fact, laws that imposed criminal punishment retroactively.
The court limited its decision to the Ex Post Facto clause challenge and did not address other challenges, such as vagueness, but it could also have far reaching implications. The state will have until September 8, 2016 to file a petition for rehearing in the Sixth Circuit. If it does not, the decision will be final. We will continue to update on the status of the case.
If you or someone you know has been convicted of an offense for which registration is required under the recent amendments, please contact the sex crime attorneys at Willey & Chamberlain for advice on whether there is a viable challenge to the registration requirements.