The Indiana Supreme Court held Thursday that based on the facts of a Lake County man’s case, a 2006 amendment requiring him to register for life as a sex offender violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Indiana Constitution. The amendment took effect after Andre Gonzalez fully served his sentence and during the 10-year period of his required registration.
Gonzalez pleaded guilty in 1997 to Class D felony child solicitation and was discharged from probation in 1999. While still required to register for 10 years based on the law in effect at the time of his discharge, the Legislature amended the Sex Offender Registration Act to require certain offenses to register for life, including child solicitation. Gonzalez petitioned to remove his sex offender designation, which the trial court denied. The Court of Appeals reversed and the Supreme Court agreed that Gonzalez should not be required to register for life.
The justices applied the seven Mendoza-Martinez factors to determine whether the retroactive imposition of the lifetime registration period violates the Ex Post Facto Clause as applied to him. Weighing the punitive and non-punitive nature of the seven factors to Gonzalez’s case – finding four of the factors to be punitive – the justices held that applying the 2006 amendment to him violates the clause.
“In the present case, the defendant, Gonzalez, as a non-SVP, may not predicate his request for relief on the grounds that he has been rehabilitated and presents no risk to the public. And the trial court has refused to grant a hearing despite his repeated attempts to seek the trial court's review of his claim of ex post facto punishment,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote. “Thus, as to this defendant, we find that the retroactive imposition of a lifetime registration requirement appears excessive in relation to the purpose of protecting the public from repeat sexual crime offenders.”
The high court reversed the denial of Gonzalez’s petition to remove the lifetime registration requirement and remanded the case, Andre Gonzalez v. State of Indiana, 45S03-1206-CR-307, for further proceedings. Justice Robert Rucker concurred in result without a separate opinion.