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COA affirms sex offender’s removal from registry

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A man convicted of rape in Pennsylvania in 1993 is not required to register as a sex offender in Indiana, the Court of Appeals affirmed Monday.

The court applied the Indiana Supreme Court’s 2009 Wallace v. State opinion in upholding a Porter Superior judge’s ruling in State of Indiana v. Terry J. Hough, 64A05-1203-MI-113. The trial court held that because Terry Hough’s conviction predated the establishment of the registries in Pennsylvania and Indiana, requiring him to register would be a violation of ex post facto laws.

Hough was ordered to serve two to five years in prison, and during his incarceration in 1996, Pennsylvania established its registry. On his release, he was told that he didn’t have to register in that state because he was moving to Indiana. He was told he would have to register in Indiana, which he did.

The state argued that Hough should be required to register because under the current sex offender statute he would be required to register for life as an offender. But the court noted a similar recent case, Burton v. State, 45A03-1201-CR-6 (Nov. 8, 2012 Ind. Ct. App. 2012), was decided on similar ex post facto grounds.

“As a resident of Indiana since 1998, Hough is entitled to the protections afforded to him by the Indiana Constitution. Therefore, even though he would be required to register as a sex offender under Pennsylvania’s laws, Indiana’s law controls,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote for the court. “Because he was convicted of a sex offense before Indiana enacted (the registry), requiring Hough to register as a sex offender would violate Indiana’s constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws.”

Left unsettled, though, is an offender’s obligation to register under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which the state has argued applies to offenders regardless of the date of their crime. The same argument was posited in Andrews v. State, 29A02-1112-MI-1166 (Nov. 21, 2012 Ind. Ct. App. 2012).

The court in Hough’s case cited the COA’s opinion in Andrews: “While Andrews may have a federal duty to register under USSORNA if he engages in interstate travel, and could be subject to prosecution in federal district court under 18 U.S.C. § 2250, if he fails to do so, this is not the issue before us.”

 

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