Monday, June 23, 2014

The predatory offender law is out of control

So I have discussed previously how ridiculous the predatory offender law is. Today I learned something new about it that makes it even more ridiculous to the point of becoming completely useless.

The law requires a person register for a certain set of crimes, as well as any offense "arising out of the same set of circumstances." So if you've been charged w/ a registration offense & a non-registration offense for things that occurred @ the same time & you plead top the non-registration offense, you still have to register. That's stupid enough on its own. But the stupidity doesn't stop there.

I stumbled onto a case today while doing legal research. Oftentimes, we ask prosecutors to dismiss the original complaint w/ the registration offense & recharge a new complaint w/o that offense as part of a plea agreement. Apparently that's no guarantee the defendant won't have to register.

The case I found, Gunderson v. Hvass, involved just that type of agreement. The evidence of the alleged sex offense didn't exist. The sex assault kit showed no semen, for example. So the prosecutor dismissed the original complaint & recharged just an assault, per a plea agreement, & the defendant pled to that.

A bit later, The Man comes along & informs him he has to register for that dismissed complaint. What??

The court held that the law requires that the person register for any conviction for a registration offense, and any offense arising out of that same set of circumstances, but it isn't required that they be charged in the same complaint.

*bangs head*

Ok this has gotten out of control. If a prosecutor charges something based on the initial information  & later determines that there isn't evidence to support that charge, so they dismiss & recharge something more appropriate, the person still has to register. So now we have people who have not committed a registration offense being required to register based on an erroneous charging decision. That's probably who the general public is concerned about. I know I want the government keeping tabs on people who shouldn't be required to register.

What in the actual fuck is the point of a "predatory offender" registration if it is just a list of people who were charged w/ things but never convicted of those things? Isn't the point of the stupid thing to know where PREDATORY people are so we aren't @ risk? When everyone is on the list, it completely negates the usefulness of such a list.

For a predatory offender law to be useful for the intended purpose, it needs to be limited to include only people who are predatory. This law needs to be seriously overhauled bc right now, it's not doing anyone any good & isn't protecting anyone.

What needs to change? Here's a list of ideas:

1. Juveniles should never have to register, especially for their entire life. It happens. A kid who screws up @ 11 yrs old will be paying the price of his mistakes for the rest of his life.

2. Registration should apply to only those offenses which are truly predatory in nature. That means if you're a teenager who had consensual sex w/ your girlfriend who is 3 yrs younger than you, you don't have to register.

3. Registration should only be required if you're actually convicted of a registration offense. Skip the "arising out of" business. If the prosecutor has the evidence to convict you on the registration offense & does that, fine. But if they plead it out bc of bad evidence or whatever, then you don't have to register.

Start w/ those. Make those changes & start making the predatory offender law actually meaningful in some way.

No comments:

Post a Comment