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COA: Sex offender registration statute not unconstitutional

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a man who was convicted of violating requirements of the Indiana sex offender registry statute failed to show evidence of ex post facto law.

In 2011, a trial court found David Healey guilty of thee counts of Class C felony failure to register as a sex offender and sentenced him to the maximum eight years for each offense. He was found guilty of a fourth charge of using a social media website that allowed people under age 18 to register, receiving an additional year’s sentence for that offense, with all sentences to be served concurrently for a total executed sentence of eight years.

In David S. Healey v. State of Indiana, No. 02A04-1110-CR-537, Healey argued that because he originally pleaded guilty to Class C felony child molesting on July 7, 1995, based on an offense that occurred in 1994, the amendment to Indiana’s Sex Offender Registration Act in 1995 does not apply to him. The amendment requires sex offenders to register on the SORA for 10 years after the date the offender was released from prison, placed on parole or placed on probation, whichever occurred last.

The COA held that the 10-year requirement is not intended to be punitive and that Healey failed to prove that the regulatory scheme that changed with the 1995 amendment is punitive.

In arguing that his sentence was inappropriate, Healey said the court failed to consider as mitigators his character, his ability to benefit from a shorter sentence and his substance abuse problems. But the COA held that Healey’s long criminal record – including committing additional offenses almost immediately after being released from incarceration – does not show that short terms of imprisonment have reduced his tendency to commit crimes. It also held that no evidence suggests Healey committed the SORA offenses because he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The COA also disagreed with Healey’s claim that he had accepted responsibility for his actions. “In the present case, Healey did not plead guilty to violating SORA, but merely admitted that he committed acts that would be in violation of SORA if he were subject to its registration requirement. In fact, he argued – and argues still – that he should not be subject to its provisions and thus should suffer no consequences,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote in the opinion.

The appellate panel affirmed the trial court, but remanded for correction of technical error found in the record.

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