Monday, February 16, 2009
Sex Offender Laws Take Commerce Clause Hit
I was retained this week on a child pornography case, and a review again of the sentences a defendant faces on these kinds of allegations are unreal, especially if law enforcement goes federal with it. But I noticed that a few judges, including Judge Zloch, are coming down hard against some of the sex offender residency laws. Still, you do not want to be a defendant in a sexual offender prosecution, anytime, anywhere.
Reporting in JURIST, Steve Czajkowskit notes that a judge in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] this week that the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006 (SORNA) [DOJ backgrounder, PDF], which makes it a federal crime for a sex offender to attempt to move to another state while failing to register in a nationwide database, is unconstitutional. It is an issue everywhere, from California to the East Coast.
Judge Lawrence Karlton held that the statute violates the Commerce Clause [US Constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 text] of the US Constitution. Karlton relied in part on the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] cases of United States v. Lopez and United States v. Morrison, ruling that the law creates too broad a class for conduct that may be singularly occuring within a single state.
Other District Courts have also found the statute unconstitutional on Commerce Clause grounds, including the Southern District of Florida [NSCLC blog report] and the Northern District of New York [NSCLC blog report].
Below is a related blog on sex offenders. But the best piece of advice I could give you, is don't become one. Get over it. Be an adult. If you feel a need to download child porn, it will be a lot safer to work out issues with a therapist today then have your lawyer trying to work out a plea deal tomorrow.