Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Notice: US Marshalls Verifying Ohio Offenders

We have been unable to verify the source of this report independently, but we will post if out of caution. This is not legal advice and does not apply to those on probation. parole or other post release control, whom may be held to stricter standards of compliance. This is simply a statement of Americans' constitutional rights as they relate to law enforcement coming to our homes (see Police Want To Talk to You, What Do You Do?:

U.S. Marshals have descended on Ohio across the state, claiming they are here to check the registry and compare it with the offender's actual address by going to their home. (i.e. sex offender compliance sweep)

Nothing has been found to validate what they are saying, or why they are even there. Validating the registry by checking the addresses with the offender's actual presence is the job of the Sheriff's Department in each county. It is no other law enforcement agency's responsibility. For example, the only reason you should find a U.S. Marshall at your door is if you moved to Ohio and failed to register, as per the Adam Walsh Act requirements, or if a federal sex offense has occurred.

Should you see U.S. Marshals standing outside your door, upon opening your door, you should know:

1. The only information you should give them is your name.
2. If they ask to enter your home, ask them if they have a warrant, if not, the answer is "no".
3. If they ask for other documentation/identification, such as; Vehicle Identification Number, email address, you do not have to provide this information. Name and verification of your address is the only request they can make without a warrant.

You have the right to ask them questions. For example:
Asking for ID, Why are you here? Am I under arrest? Do you have a warrant? Who do you work for? Are you investigating a crime?

It's important to never allow law enforcement into your home without a warrant, in other words when you don't have to, because that gives them the opportunity to "plant evidence" if they choose to. It makes no difference that they are federal agents (US Marshals) or local law enforcement.

There is no guarantee that they won't arrest you if you refuse them entry into your home or if you do not provide additional information they are requesting. If they arrest you for this, that would be "false arrest" and you can sue them for that. Don't speak to them, don't say anything, cooperate, let them take you in, and continually demand you be allowed to have an attorney present before answering any questions or talking to them. Say nothing else.

**If any of you have experienced a visit from the US Marshals, we need the complete story forwarded so that we may give the information to the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, or contact the OJPC directly at (513) 421-1108.