COMING LEGAL CHALLENGE
RSOL New Mexico is excited to announce that we have launched a major fundraising campaign for our own constitutional challenge against the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). An anonymous donor pledged to match all donations dollar for dollar up to $10,000. This means your donation, regardless of size will immediately double. If this fundraising campaign is successful, it is our expectation that we will file the challenge by early 2014. We are encouraged because the Oklahoma Supreme Court just ruled a few days ago (in the case of Starkey v Oklahoma Department of Corrections) that the 2007 enhancements to that state’s registration law is unconstitutional as applied to offenders registered under the previous version. Our 2005 version of SORNA (lifetime registration) is very similar to what was enacted in that state in 2007.
Amendments to SORNA Effective July 1st. It is vitally important that you know that HB 570 is applicable only to “a person who, on or after July 1, 2013, is found guilty of committing a sex offense.” See Section 5, HB 570.
Key provisions of HB 570 are:
- Persons convicted of Child Solicitation by Electronic Communications Device must register provided that the conviction occurs on or after July 1, 2013;
- Creates a new definition of an “out of state registrant;”
- Requires that sex offenders provide a substantial amount of new information that is not currently required by law such as email addresses, internet monikers; professional licenses, passports, telephone numbers, and immigration documents;
- Reduces the amount of time from ten calendar days to five business days for a registrant to notify law enforcement of changes in registration information;
- Requires that the DPS create a secure system where a registrant can submit all required changes electronically;
- Adds new language that streamlines the registration process. After registrants’ initial registration, all future updates of registration information will achieved by simply a returning (in-person) to the county sheriff a “verification form” sent by the DPS;
- Requires that the DPS to send registrants notice at least 15 days prior to verification dates; and
- Preempts the imposition (by any governmental entity) of any requirements or restrictions not specifically included in New Mexico’s SORNA.
There is good and bad in HB 570. The good news is that the intent of the legislation was to:
- Reduce the likelihood of junk prosecutions that occur for those that are technically out of compliance simply because the person miscalculated their 90-days between registrations; and
- To prevent the spread of local restrictions that are cropping up all over the country, and to some extent, here in New Mexico as well.
The bad news is if the law is interpreted literally as it is written, it will fail to achieve those purposes. It is quite possible that they (Sheriffs and Prosecutors) will argue that the duty for the DPS to send notices and the prohibition against additional restrictions do not apply to any sex offender convicted prior to July 1, 2013. If they do take that position, it stands to reason that no sex offender convicted prior to July 1, 2013 can be subjected to the additional obligations imposed on sex offenders either. RSOL will keep you posted.