To defend themselves, a person accused of criminal charges must navigate through a complex and difficult legal process. However, because the law is constantly changing, it is important for experienced Michigan sex crime attorneys to update the public on new decisions handed down by state or federal courts that could affect suspected or convicted sex offenders. Such an example is seen in the recent ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which allows violators to be submitted to the Sex Offender Registry retroactively.
In the case of The People v. Kent Allen Lee released on June 17th, convicted sex offenders can be placed on the registry any time after sentencing, as long as they are still on probation.
According to the Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), individuals found guilty of a listed sex crime are required to register as a sex offender. However, the Michigan statute doesn’t specifically state when the prosecution is required to ask those convicted of Michigan sex offense charges to be placed on the registry. However, the law does allow defendants to be placed on the registry for other crimes against minors, which by their nature are considered sexual offenses.
In the past, Michigan Courts ruled that the trial Court must look at the facts and circumstances of a particular offense, rather than the crime that the person is convicted of to decide whether to place a defendant on the Sex Offender Registry. After the recent ruling, those originally accused of sex crimes, but ultimately convicted of non-sexual offenses, can still be placed on the registry. In the Lee case specifically, he pled guilty to third-degree child abuse——a crime which is not usually sexual in nature.
Originally, the Michigan Court of Appeals denied the case for lack of merit on the grounds and evidence presented. However, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered that the Court of Appeals hear the case. In The People v. Kent Allen Lee, the Court ruled that as long as the defendant is under the jurisdiction of the legal system, the prosecution was free to request a hearing on this issue.
As a result of the Court’s new ruling, a convicted defendant on probation for a non-sexual misdemeanor is still not exempt from placement on the Sex Offender Registry. At or near the end of the probationary period, the prosecution could request to place the defendant on the registry——even if it is years later.
As illustrated by the recent decision, being convicted of any crime, even those not generally considered sexual offenses, can have serious consequences. Not only could a person’s reputation be permanently ruined, but the defendant could be subjected to jail time as a result. Therefore, it is essential to be proactive in securing knowledgeable counsel, able to help clients avoid SORA registration. Contacting aggressive Michigan sex crime lawyers immediately will ensure superior legal representation, protecting your precious personal liberties and freedoms.
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