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Appeals court denies man’s request to be removed from sex offender registry

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Using the “intents-effects” test, the Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed that the additional registration requirements imposed on a man on the sex offender registry after a 2006 change in the law do not amount to an impermissible ex post facto violation.

Kenneth Seales pleaded guilty in October 1998 to Class B felony child molesting for an offense that occurred in 1996. When he committed the offense, he was required to register for 10 years on the Indiana Sex Offender Registry. In 2011, he filed a motion to determine if he still had to register and to be removed from the registry.

He argued the 2006 change in the law that required he now register for life is an impermissible ex post facto law. The trial court denied his motion, finding he must continue to register as a sexually violent predator for life based on I.C. 11-8-8-19.

The Court of Appeals found Seales’ case to be very similar to Gonzalez v. State, 980 N.E.2d 312, 319 (Ind. 2013). But instead of finding the lifetime registration to be punitive, as it did in Gonzalez, the COA ruled that the lifetime registration was not an ex post facto law regarding Seales.

In Kenneth Seales v. State of Indiana, 71A03-1306-CR-218, the court considered seven factors to determine whether the effects of the Act, as applied to Seales, are so punitive in nature as to amount to a criminal penalty.

“The Gonzalez facts are similar in most respects to those in the case before us. However, because of one significant distinction, we cannot reach the same result,” Judge Melissa May wrote, pointing to the seventh factor: whether the statute appears excessive in relation to the alternative purpose assigned.

“Gonzales, unlike … Seales, was not a sexually violent predator. He never had a hearing to determine his status as a sexually violent predator, nor had he committed a qualifying offense. Rather, his lifetime registration requirement arose under a different statute due to the nature of his offense and the fact that, when committed, Gonzales was at least eighteen years old and the victim less than twelve years old,” May wrote. Because Gonzales was not a sexually violent predator, he “had no available channel through which he could petition the trial court for review of his future dangerousness or complete rehabilitation.”

“As Seales … has available to him avenues of relief related to his future dangerousness ‘in relation to the alternative purpose assigned, protection of the public,’ we find the seventh factor weighs in favor of treating the lifetime registration requirement as non-punitive, and we therefore cannot say it was error for the trial court to deny Seales’ petition to be removed from the sex offender registry,” May wrote.
 

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