Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What About All Those Fees County Sheriffs Extort From Sex Offenders on Registries?

We first reported in April 2009 of Ohio County Sheriff Departments charging fees to registered sex offenders when they register on site. See: Ohio County Sheriffs Rape Sex Offenders

We then began hearing that Sheriff Departments were charging such fees in more than 20 Ohio Counties. See: More Ohio Counties Charge Sex Offenders

This allowance was written into the Ohio Revised Code:
311.171 Fees for sex offender registration and notification.(Maximum fee =$100 per year)

We have suggested all along that ex sex offenders refuse to pay these extortion fees. The law says that Sheriffs cannot refuse to register those who do not pay (see C 5). And any unpaid fees can only be pursued through civil debt collection (see C 6): "The county may recover those fees in a civil action in the same manner as other money due the county."

Now the question arises: What do we do about all the fees which were paid to Sheriff Departments across the state by ex offenders who are now affected by the Bodyke Supreme Court ruling?

Those who are now expunged from the sex offender registries have every right to sue the County, State, Ohio Attorney General and County Sheriff Department to reclaim this money. We suggest that any ex offender who is now removed from the registries file suit to reclaim these fees. This can be done through small claims court, where citizens can sue for amounts less than $3000. Citizens can sue without an attorney and a small filing fee will be required. Check your local courts for instructions on how to file such lawsuits. We are not legal professionals and cannot give specific legal advice, so you should consult your own legal professional or do your own research. It is probably a good idea to include all of those agencies to be sure you include the ultimate party of responsibility (Your County, The State of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General and County Sheriff Department).

Even if this money does not mean much to you (or if you would rather just let it go and get on with your life) you should consider doing this. Putting more pressure on the Sheriff Departments and State will further the cause against such punitive sex offender laws. Right now, in this nation and state, sex offenders are the easy punching bag. Only by fighting back in these types of battles will we ever see significant changes in sex offender laws.