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February 20, 2008

Ohio Supreme Court narrows state's sex offender residency restriction

As detailed in this official press release, the "Supreme Court of Ohio held today that, because a 2003 state law barring certain sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of a school does not expressly provide that its provisions apply retrospectively, the statute does not apply to an offender who bought his home and committed his crime before the law took effect."  Notably, as the press release goes on to explain, this fancy bit of statutory interpretation has allowed the Ohio Supreme Court to avoid some tougher issues:

Because the Court found that the residency statute does not apply retroactively, the justices did not reach or decide the issue of whether such a law, if expressly made retroactive by the legislature, would violate the Ohio Constitution’s prohibition against retroactive laws that infringe on an individual’s substantive right....

Justice Terrence O’Donnell dissented, stating that in his view the plain language of R.C. 2950.031 does clearly indicate legislative intent: 1) that the 1,000-foot residency restriction be applied to sex offenders regardless of whether their crimes were committed before or after the effective date of the statute; and 2) that covered offenders be barred both from “establishing a residence” and from “occupying residential premises” that are within 1,000 feet of a school after July 31, 2003 — regardless of whether an offender “occupied” those premises before the law was enacted.... Justice O’Donnell added that, having found clear legislative intent that the challenged statute be applied retroactively, he would go on to hold that the 1,000-foot residency restriction is remedial rather than substantive in nature, and therefore that retroactive application of the statute to require Porter to vacate his home did not violate Porter’s rights under Section 28, Article II of the Ohio Constitution.

By relying on statutory interpretation in Hyle v. Porter, No. 2008-Ohio-542 (Ohio S. Ct. Feb. 20, 2008) (available here), the Ohio Supreme Court essentially kicks this hot-potato issue over to the Ohio state legislature.  It will be VERY interesting to see how the Ohio legislature responds, especially since the defendant here is asserting property rights that can often change the usual political dynamics that surround crime and punishment debates.

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February 20, 2008 at 12:04 PM | Permalink


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Tracked on Feb 20, 2008 11:00:29 PM


I don't think any law should be retroactive to any on who has served time in any prison system.
If ohio's sex offender law goes retro active back from the time it became law(2007) then why not go back to 1997, 1987, ect. Where dose it stop and what about those who are really trying to change their lives. Is it fair to further punish them after they have served their time?
Some even came out of prison with a college education and are trying to hold down a job. That is somethiong this law will prevent.

Posted by: James Darnell | May 20, 2008 10:52:05 AM

Wow,whats next. If these laws stand then its kind of scary. What if they make a new classification of people with a dui and even though it happend 10 years ago they can now come back and add to your sentence because they changed the laws around.

Sorry almost everybody has some kinda fn record. What if they make a new classification out of domestic violence. So they can take a guy who served 30 days in jail over 20 years ago and say sorry your upgraded to a level 2 domestic violence offender and now have to serve 5 more years in jail. Were all in big trouble.

Posted by: stephanie | Jun 17, 2008 2:40:04 PM

As a mother I think laws on sexually offenders should be more and they should be enforced better. I don't care if you commited the crime in the 1950's I deserve the right to know who is living on my block. Once you commit a crime as horrible as this you don't deserve rights. You take away a Childs innocents you don't deserve anything.

Posted by: Brandie | Oct 15, 2010 10:26:15 AM

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