The Michigan Court of Appeals has handed down their ruling that homeless sex offenders don't have to comply with Michigan's Sex Offender Registry Act.
The three judge panel upheld a trial court's dismissal against a homeless man who failed to register, failed to report and failed to pay registration fees. This ruling sets a state-wide precedent.
The law states that a sex offender must report their "domicile or residence” to police. Because a homeless sex offender has neither the judges ruled he cannot comply with the law.
Many law enforcement officials are unhappy with this ruling.
Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler stated, “I certainly hope the Legislature takes a good hard look at this ruling and revisits the Sex Offender Registry Act. It’s going to be an obstacle to properly investigating the cases of who has failed to register and who has failed to comply with the act.
The opinion signed by judges Jane M. Beckering, Jane E. Markey and Stephen L. Borrello urged state lawmakers to fix the law. Mlive.com reports the judges said in the statement, “The Legislature is free, indeed, empowered, to ... include a provision addressing reporting requirements for the homeless.The purpose of (the Sex Offender Registry Act) is wise, and the Legislature is urged to consider changes so that a homeless person who does not have a domicile or residence may readily comply with its requirements."
According to registry records the case involved a man who was convicted in 1984 of five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of kidnapping. He was kicked out of a homeless shelter when it was learned that he was a convicted sex offender. He was living in abandoned buildings and did not register since he didn't have an address.
Law makers plan to take action as state Sen. Gerald Van Woerkom, R-Norton Shores said, “I would think that we would have to find a way to register these offenders.”
Lists of sex offenders can be found here.