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August 12, 2011

South Dakota high court rejects constitutional challenges to sex offender loitering crime

As reported in this AP article, the South Dakota Supreme Court earlier this week rejected a constitutional attack on a state law crminalizing loitering by sex offenders.  Here are the details:

A state law barring registered sex offenders from loitering near schools, public parks and public playgrounds is constitutional because it provides sufficient warning of what conduct is prohibited, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The high court's unanimous ruling upheld the conviction of a Sioux Falls man who argued the law is unconstitutional because it is too vague. Kenneth Dale Stark, 61, was convicted of two counts of loitering in a community safety zone after law officers observed him near two public parks in Sioux Falls.  A circuit judge then sentenced him to six years in prison....

After a woman reported that someone in a vehicle registered to Stark was watching or following children going to swimming lessons in April 2009, law officers followed Stark after he left work the following day.  They testified in his trial that they saw Stark circle one park for about 20 minutes and later saw him drive away after being parked near another park....

During his trial and in the appeal, Stark argued the law was too vague and violated his constitutional freedom to loiter for innocent purposes.  He contended he just drove past the first park and pulled over near the second park to yield to an oncoming car and allow some children to cross the street....

South Dakota law specifically prohibits registered sex offenders from loitering within 500 feet of any school, public park or public playground for the purpose of observing or contacting minors, the Supreme Court ruled.  That language limits application of the law to loitering that has an apparently harmful purpose or effect, the justices said.  "The statutes at issue were sufficient to provide Stark with notice that his conduct was prohibited, and they did not authorize the law enforcement officers in this case to act in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner," Justice Glen Severson wrote for the court.

The full opinion in South Dakota v. Stark is available at this link.

August 12, 2011 at 09:26 AM | Permalink

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Comments

hmm

"After a woman reported that someone in a vehicle registered to Stark was watching or following children going to swimming lessons in April 2009, law officers followed Stark after he left work the following day. They testified in his trial that they saw Stark circle one park for about 20 minutes and later saw him drive away after being parked near another park...."

my problem with the law is it's duplicated by the anti-stalking laws that apply to EVERYONE. If this is legal for ANYONE to to then great. but if it's just targeted to one group it's illegal. AT which time he has every legal and moral right to do whatever he needs to do to escape an illegal detention!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 12, 2011 9:40:43 AM

My problem with these type of laws has to do the the RSO parent. There is a fine line between loitering and a nosey butt who does not like RSO's on school property.

Parents have to pick up their children and RSO's are not excluded from that responsibility.

No one should be loitering around children nowadays. You will be accused of everything under the sun if you do.

Posted by: Book38 | Aug 13, 2011 12:22:51 AM

well book that's what i said. we already have loitering and anti-stalking laws on the books...have for decades predating the sex offender stupidity! USE EM! on EVERYONE nobody can say a word. But this illegal targeting is just gonna get all the laws tossed eventualy.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 13, 2011 1:39:55 AM

My problem with these type of laws is that they confer great power to LE, prosecutors and the ex-DA judges.

From the news media report, nothing factual was reported. If it is verbatim from the Piece Officers testimony, the law IS ambiguous. There is not enough information here to make a reasonable decision. THAT IS HOW THE GUBERMINT WANTS IT!

"After a woman reported that someone in a vehicle registered to Stark was watching or following children going to swimming lessons in April 2009, law officers followed Stark after he left work the following day. They testified in his trial that they saw Stark circle one park for about 20 minutes and later saw him drive away after being parked near another park...."

What the Hell does that mean? Maybe it was big park and his only way home was to go around a park (what does circle mean?) There is no reported counter-balance to try to understand real-life situations. But voters eat it all up.

Six Years? That is why we are broke. Words only mean what the gubermint wants them to mean.

Frenchy, round up the usual suspects. I have a feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Posted by: albeed | Aug 13, 2011 11:19:02 PM

Dear Doug:

I have read the full opinion of the SD SC position, and I maintain that US Liberty is in Jeopardy, "for the children."

History DOES repeat itself! Where have we heard this before?

The best law students will diminish as they understand that they cannot afford the price of any degree with no ROI. The government made sure of that with Bankruptcy Laws and Student Loans.

Why is that?

Posted by: albeed | Aug 14, 2011 12:05:01 AM

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Posted by: soccer jersey | Aug 19, 2011 12:51:24 AM

What law addresses a pedophile moving in with minor children? Child protection does not want to get involved.
2 minor girls with their mother moved in with a pedophile that molested his own daughter. South Dakota AG or any law enforcement does not want to get involved.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 14, 2012 5:17:13 PM

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