If you are convicted of a sex offense in Maryland, you will be required to register as a sex offender. The mechanism controlling Maryland’s sexual offender registry is complicated and has seen several recent amendments. These amendments can affect those who were convicted of sexual offenses in the past by retroactively changing their sex offender registration status. Many believe that this retroactive approach is in direct violation of the Ex Post Facto (after the fact) Clause in Maryland’s Declaration of Rights.
History of the Law
The Maryland General Assembly passed a law in 2009 that changed the sexual offender registration requirements. This new statute dictates that those charged with a sexual offense prior to October 1, 1995 (who weren’t required to register) but who weren’t convicted until after that date are now obligated to register. Another amendment was made in 2010 when the registration term for Tier III sex offenders changed from a ten-year registration to a lifetime registration.
Doe v. Department of Public Safety
In Doe v. Department of Public Safety, the Circuit Court denied Doe’s removal from the sex offender registry, and Doe appealed to the Court of Special Appeals where he argued that the requirement to register after the fact amounted to an ex-post facto argument. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the trial court’s opinion, and the case went on to the Court of Appeals, which reviewed the decision and returned a plurality opinion that requiring Doe to register violated the prohibition against ex-post facto laws.
Because Doe was not required to register until after the 2009 and 2010 amendments, the Court of Appeals found that the statute was retroactively enforced. Further, the Court of Appeals determined that compelling Doe to register altered the consequences of his criminal conviction to his disadvantage and compared lifetime registration to lifetime probation. The Court of Appeals went so far as to identify the amended registration provision as a shaming mechanism.
The Legal Implications
This important decision by Maryland’s Court of Appeals could be significant for anyone whose registration status changed due to the 2009 and/or 2010 amendments. Sex offender registration is extremely serious, and can negatively affect your life in myriad ways. If your sex offender registration status has changed since your original sentence, contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney immediately.
If You’ve Been Charged with a Sex Offense, Discuss Your Case with a Baltimore Criminal Defense Attorney
The consequences of a sex offense conviction cannot be overstated. If you or someone you care about is facing a sex offense charge in Baltimore, Maryland, protect your rights by calling criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice of the Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 – or contact him online – for a free case evaluation.