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January 14, 2010

Split Missouri Supreme Court finds limits retrospective application of state sex offender restrictions

As detailed in this Kansas City Star article, recently-enacted Missouri laws "regulating where sex offenders live and what they do on Halloween cannot apply to those convicted before the laws took effect, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday." Hare are the basics:

The 4-3 decision in two cases from eastern Missouri addressed the 2004 law preventing convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or child-care facility and the 2008 law that controlled the activities of registered sex offenders on Halloween night.

The court’s majority found that both laws violated the Missouri Constitution’s protection against retrospective laws if applied to offenders convicted before the laws were enacted. In the opinion of the court’s dissenting minority, both laws are “valid exercises of the state’s police power to protect children.”

The split ruling from the Supreme Court of Missouri can be accessed at this link, and here is how the majority opinion gets started:

In the first of these cases, F.R., a convicted sex offender, challenges the constitutional validity of section 566.1471, Missouri's "School Residency Law," which prohibits convicted sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of any school or child-care facility.  Because F.R. was convicted and sentenced before the "school residency law" was enacted, section 566.147, as applied to F.R., is unconstitutionally retrospective in its operation....

In the second case, Charles Raynor, a convicted sex offender, challenges the constitutional validity of section 589.426, which prohibits convicted sex offenders from going outdoors, turning on their outdoor lights and handing out candy on Halloween, and which requires them to post a sign stating "no candy or treats at this residence."  Because Raynor was convicted and sentenced before section 589.426 was enacted, section 589.426, as applied to Raynor, is unconstitutionally retrospective in its operation.

January 14, 2010 at 03:19 PM | Permalink

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