Petitions to Terminate Sex Offender Registration: Moir Tiers

Last month the supreme court decided State v. Moir. It is a case about how a state sex crime—namely, indecent liberties with a child—fits within the offense tiering system set out in the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). 

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Interpreting Sex Offender Consequence Laws: Contact with Minors

A few years ago I began tracking and compiling the consequences that attach to an offense subject to sex offender registration (a registrable offense). In preparation for an upcoming course, I just updated my Consequences Paper.

The list of consequences continues to grow. So, too, has litigation over them. A recent court of appeals decision, State v. Barnett (Jan. 19, 2016), considered the limits on the court’s authority to enter a no-contact order against a person convicted of a registrable offense. (Jamie Markham wrote a blog post about another aspect of the decision—whether attempted rape is an aggravated offense and subject to stricter registration and monitoring requirements. It isn’t.) [After publication of this blog post, the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision in Barnett. The Supreme Court agreed that G.S. 15A-1340.50 protects the victim of the offense, not third parties, and a judge may not prohibit contact with third parties for their protection; however, the Supreme Court held that, on appropriate findings, a judge may prohibit the defendant from indirectly contacting the victim through specifically identified third parties, such as the victim’s family.]

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Sex Crime Tiers under Federal Law

Like most states, North Carolina has not substantially implemented the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). (Only 17 states have.) Nevertheless, some portions of the federal law wind up impacting sex offenders in North Carolina. As discussed in previous posts, as a matter of existing state law, a judge may not grant a petition for removal from the sex offender registry if doing so would violate the “federal Jacob Wetterling Act, as amended, and any other standards applicable to the termination of a registration requirement or required to be met as a condition for the receipt of federal funds by the State.” G.S. 14-208.12A(a1)(2). With that requirement in place, federal rules regarding minimum registration period effectively trump the state-law regime allowing a non-lifetime registrant to petition for removal 10 years after the date of initial county registration. The minimum registration periods under federal law are 15 years for so-called “Tier I” offenses (reducible to 10 years in certain circumstances), 25 years for “Tier II” offenses, and life for “Tier III” offenses.

That longwinded introduction brings me to the real purpose of today’s post. To apply the state law referencing federal law correctly, you need to know the tier into which the registrant’s reportable offense would fall. Federal law defines the tiers mostly by reference to federal crimes. In today’s post I will summarize the federal laws and regulations regarding tiering, including all of the relevant definitions of qualifying acts.

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Reportable Kidnapping

In the course of robbing a convenience store, a man restrains a 17-year-old clerk. Suppose the parties work out a plea to second-degree kidnapping. Everything is fine until the judge advises the defendant of the maximum permissible punishment for his Class E crime: 136 months. “136 months?” his lawyer said, puzzled. “I thought it would be 88.” “It would be,” the court replied, “if this crime didn’t require registration as a sex offender.”

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Walters Affirmed: No Sex Offender Registration for a PJC

With three words—PER CURIAM. AFFIRMED.—the Supreme Court of North Carolina last week added a new wrinkle to two already perplexing areas of the law: sex offender registration and PJCs. In Walters v. Cooper, the high court affirmed the court of appeals’ conclusion that a conviction for which a person receives a prayer for judgment continued … Read more

The Wetterling Finding: Not an Unconstitutional Delegation

The court of appeals recently decided another case on petitions to terminate sex offender registration. Once again, the decision turned on what I have called the “Wetterling finding”—the rule in G.S. 14-208.12A(a1)(2) that a judge may not remove a person from the registry if doing so would not comply with “the federal Jacob Wetterling Act, … Read more

No Sex Offender Registration for a “True PJC”

I’m headed to High Point today to teach a session for magistrates on crimes related to sex offender registration. I’m glad I looked at the slip opinions from the court of appeals before I left. A case decided today answers a somewhat frequently asked question about sex offender registration: Does a PJC for a sex … Read more