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7th Circuit rules on sex offender registration

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A reasonable grace period is required before the federal government can enhance a convicted sex offender's punishment for not registering after a move to a new state, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.

That timeframe falls somewhere between zero days and five months, according to the ruling in the consolidated cases of U.S. v. Marcus Dixon, 08-1438, and U.S. v. Thomas Carr, No. 08-2008.

In deciding a case that's the first of its kind in this Circuit, the federal appellate panel dismissed claims that the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act was unconstitutional on several fronts and instead focused mostly on the notice received from the federal government before a criminal failure to register with state authorities is enhanced to a federal crime.

The court reversed the judgment against Marcus Dixon with direction to acquit while affirming the decision in Thomas Carr's case.

Both were convicted in the Northern District courts - Dixon after a bench trial in 2007 for failure to register with state authorities after moving to Indiana in 2006 before the regulation was adopted; Carr after pleading guilty and moving to the state.

The law in question imposes criminal penalties on any state or federally convicted sex offender who, among other things, knowingly fails to register as a sex offender. Congress gave the U.S. Attorney General authority to specify when that timeframe to register applies. Dixon was charged and ultimately convicted on grounds that he didn't register on or about Feb. 27, 2007 - the date the rule was adopted; Carr had not registered by July 2007.

But while Dixon should have known that he needed to register, his ex post facto rights were violated because the federal law imposes on that existing crime a new federal criminal penalty on top of any state punishment for not registering, the court wrote.

"Whatever the minimum grace period required to be given a person who faces criminal punishment for failing to register as a convicted sex offender is, it must be greater than zero," Judge Richard Posner wrote, referring to the government's charge that he didn't register on or near the same time the rule was passed.

Carr's case was different, as he had about five months to register and failed to do so, Judge Posner wrote, noting that it was a sufficient grace period.

"Remember that on our interpretation of the statute as filled out by the regulation, the duty to register does not come into force on the day the Act becomes applicable to a person, or on the next day or next week, but within a reasonable time..."

Overall, the court determined that the law isn't unconstitutional and any convicted sex offender must register even if they came to the state prior to the federal law's passage.

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  1. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  2. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

  3. So this firebrand GOP Gov was set free by a "unanimous Supreme Court" , a court which is divided, even bitterly, on every culture war issue. WHAT A RESOUNDING SLAP in the Virginia Court's face! How bad must it have been. And all the journalists, lap dogs of the status quo they are, can do is howl that others cannot be railroaded like McDonald now??? Cannot reflect upon the ruining of Winston and Julia's life and love? (Oh I forget, the fiction at this Ministry of Truth is that courts can never err, and when they do, and do greatly, as here, why then it must be ignored, since it does not compute.)

  4. My daughter is a addict and my grandson was taken by DCS and while in hospital for overdose my daughter was told to sign papers from DCS giving up her parental rights of my grandson to the biological father's mom and step-dad. These people are not the best to care for him and I was never called or even given the chance to take him, but my daughter had given me guardianship but we never went to court to finalize the papers. Please I have lost my daughter and I dont want to lose my grandson as well. I hope and look forward to speaking with you God Bless and Thank You for all of your help

  5. To Bob- Goooooood, I'm glad you feel that way! He's alive and happy and thriving and out and I'm his woman and we live in West Palm Beach Florida, where his parents have a sprawling estate on an exclusive golf course......scum bag

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