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February 21, 2008

Missouri high court limits application of sex offender residency restriction

Thanks to this post at Sex Crimes, I see that the Ohio Supreme Court is not alone in issuing an important ruling limiting the application of a state residency restriction.  As detailed in this AP story, though "a unanimous ruling Tuesday, Missouri's high court upheld a decision in May by a circuit judge striking down a portion of Missouri's sex offender statutes that could have forced the sex offenders to move."  The ruling came in R.L. v. Missouri Department of Corrections, No. SC88644 (Missouri Feb. 19, 2008) (available here), and here is the opinion's summary:

Section 566.147, as applied to R.L. and those similarly situated, violates the bar on retrospective laws set forth in article I, section 13 of the state constitution.  Missouri has prohibited retrospective civil laws -- which create new obligations, impose new duties or attach new disabilities with respect to actions already past -- since it adopted its first constitution in 1820.  In applying this constitutional principle, this Court has held that a law requiring registration as a sex offender for an offense that occurred prior to the registration law's effective date was an invalid retrospective law in violation of article I, section 13. Doe v. Phillips, 194 S.W.3d 833 (Mo. banc 2006). The same long-standing principles apply here, as the residency restrictions impose a new obligation on R.L. and those similarly situated by requiring them to change their place of residence based solely on offenses committed before the statute was enacted.

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February 21, 2008 at 07:51 AM | Permalink

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