Collateral consequences – Sex Offender Registration

The advice to an accused about sexual offender registration is complicated.  Cases such as Williams v. Lee and Keathley, No. ED 93827, from the Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Division Five, decided May 4, 2010.  This is a retroactivity case.

On February 5, 2000, Williams pled guilty in a military tribunal to one specification of carnal knowledge under Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice ("UCMJ"), and one specification of sodomy with a child under the age of 16 in violation of Article 125 of the UCMJ. No law — Missouri, federal, or military — required Williams to register as a sex offender at the time of his convictions.

However, with the passage of SORNA to police went out and required registration.  But,

The Missouri Supreme Court subsequently decided Doe v. Blunt, 225 S.W.3d 421 (Mo. banc 2007). Blunt held that SORA violated Missouri’s ban on retrospective laws to the extent that it required persons to register for offenses that occurred before such offenses were added to SORA’s registration requirements.

Respondents filed a motion to dismiss Williams’s Petition and argued that federal law, the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"), 42 U.S.C. sections 16911-16917, nonetheless required Williams to register as a sex offender in Missouri. Because Williams qualified as a sex offender under the UCMJ, Respondents asserted that SORNA imposed an independent federal obligation upon Williams to register in the jurisdiction where he resides. Since federal law required Williams to register, Respondents argued that Missouri law, section 589.401.1(5), required him to register as well.

SORNA, however, specifically exempts certain conduct from its definition of a sex offense. 42 U.S.C. section 16911(5)(C) states:

Offenses involving consensual sexual conduct

An offense involving consensual sexual conduct is not a sex offense for the purposes of this subchapter [. . .] if the victim was at least 13 years old and the offender was not more than 4 years older than the victim.

The judgment of the trial court is reversed and remanded. On remand, the trial court is directed to enter its finding that Williams is exempt from registering under SORNA pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 16911(5)(C).  The trial court is further directed to order Respondents to destroy records related to Williams’s sex offender registration.

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