Court ruling raises concerns about sex offender registry

Names removed from list after aspects of law deemed unconstitutional

Hundreds of names have been removed from Maryland's sex offender registry in the wake of a 2013 Court of Appeals ruling, according to ABC7 News. The court found that aspects of thesex offender law were unconstitutional, especially those ordering offenders to register on the list despite being convicted before the list had been created. While politicians have long seen the registry as useful, critics and civil rights advocates point out that the public safety claims made about the list are, at best, highly dubious.

Court of Appeals ruling

According to the Baltimore Sun, the issue of the constitutionality of such sex offender laws has been highly contentious, not only in Maryland but across the U.S. Other states have delivered mixed verdicts concerning the constitutionality of requiring people convicted of sex crimes to register as sex offenders. However, the Court of Appeals ruled in 2013 that a Maryland law that required anybody convicted of a sex crime to register as a sex offender was at least partially unconstitutional.

The problem with the law was that it required offenders to register even if they were convicted before the sex offender registry existed. Under the Maryland and U.S. Constitutions, people cannot be subject to additional punishments after they have already been sentenced. As a result of the ruling, hundreds of names have already been removed from the registry and experts say that over 1,000 more could be removed.

Public safety claims questioned

Advocates for such sex offender registries claim that they are necessary in order to protect public safety. The registry allows members of the public to search for convicted sex offenders who live within a given area. Critics, however, point out that there is no proof that the registries increase public safety or help reduce recidivism rates. They point out that the registries are based on a disproven theory that "once a sex offender, always a sex offender."

Furthermore, the registries have a severe impact on the lives of people who are listed. Registered offenders describe finding it difficult to hold down a job because of their sex offender status and, as a result, the registries often make it more difficult for offenders to reintegrate into society.

Fighting criminal charges

As the above case shows, lawmakers, prosecutors, and the public often punish sex offenders much more harshly than other types of criminal defendants. Being convicted of a sex crime carries severe consequences. Not only do offenders face lengthy jail sentences, but they could be subject to serious limitations on their freedom once released from prison. It is important to point out that the court ruling described above will not prevent people who are currently being tried for a sex crime from being added to the registry.

The best way of fighting a sex crime charge is by consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Such an attorney will fight to clear his client's name and help to make sure that his client's reputation is protected from such damaging accusations.