Tuesday, March 17, 2009

MO Supreme Court Ruling on Sex Offender Registry

Seattle Times : Mo. court rules date of conviction, not offense, decides who must sign state sex offender list.

Jefferson City, Mo. —The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday clarified which sex offenders must be included in the state registry.

Starting in 1995, sex offenders have been required to have their names included in a state database. But the state high court has ruled that those whose only offense happened before 1995 cannot be forced to register because the continuous registration requirement did not exist when the sex offense occurred.

The state Supreme Court in a 7-0 opinion ruled the sex offender registration requirements applied to Holden because the trigger is the conviction and not the date of the actual offense.

That clarified previous rulings on the sex offender registry, which had created some confusion over whether the focus should be on the date of the guilty plea or conviction or on the date of the offense.

Judge William Ray Price, writing for the court, noted that the sex offender registration requirement had been in place for several months when Holden pleaded guilty.
"So long as the plea or conviction occurs after the effective date of the statute, as in this case, the registration requirements are not retrospective in operation, regardless of the date the underlying offense was committed," Price wrote.

"If the purpose of the registration requirements is to permit the authorities and the public to stay apprised of an offenders' residence, then it may prove unwise to impose harsh punishments on those offenders, like Mr. Holden, who undertake good faith but technically erroneous efforts at compliance," wrote Teitelman, who was joined by Judge Michael Wolff.

State of Missouri vs. William D. Holden, SC89635
Courts: http://www.courts.mo.gov/page.asp?id=12086&dist=Opinions (search case number SC89635; decision posted here.