The Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court’s ruling that in at least one case of the state’s application of a law prohibiting violent and child sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or public area where children congregate is unconstitutional.
The ruling came in State of Indiana v. Anthony W. Pollard, No. 05A02-0707-CR-640. Judges heard arguments in the case March 31. The state argued that Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-11 was not considered ex post facto law as applied to Anthony W. Pollard, but the appeals court disagreed and affirmed a ruling by Blackford Superior Judge John Forcum that dismissed the felony charge against him.
At the time of his April 4, 1997, criminal conviction of committing a sex-related offense against a child, Pollard’s home was within 1,000 feet of a school property, a youth program center, or a public park. He was not required to move away from his home as part of his sentence or as a result of his conviction. At the time he had lived there for about 10 years. That was nearly 10 years before the sex-offender residency statute went into effect July 1, 2006.
He still lives in the same home. On Jan. 26, 2007, the state charged Pollard with a Class D felony sex-offender residency offense. On March 2, 2007, Pollard filed a motion to dismiss. The trial court granted Pollard’s motion to dismiss June 21, 2007, determining that Indiana Code section 35-42-4-11 violated the ex post facto prohibition contained in Article 1, Section 24 of Indiana’s Constitution as applied to Pollard, adding that the application of Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-11 served to retroactively increase the punishment for the crime committed.
The state appealed, but the Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court.
“While we cannot speak to the purpose of the residency statute, we can observe its unmistakable effect,” wrote Judge Paul D. Mathias. “The residency statute clearly increases the penalty applied to affected sex offenders by preventing those offenders from residing and taking full advantage of their ownership rights in property acquired prior to conviction and prior to the imposition of the statute. In contrast, the registration statute does not implicate any fundamental rights; rather, it places only an administrative burden on offenders.”
Judge Mathias continued, “The residency statute also impinges upon one of this country’s most closely held rights, the right to property.”
The opinion also examines other states’ versions of the sex-offender residency restrictions.