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Ohio Supreme Court: Sex offender termination provisions not retroactive

In 2008, state lawmakers replaced Ohio's Megan's law with the Adam Walsh Act. While both of these bills outlined the laws regarding sex offender registration, they had one key difference: the Adam Walsh Act gave certain offenders the chance to terminate their sex offender registration duties.

Even though some offenders thought this new law finally gave them an opportunity to end years of sex offender registration - not to mention avoid the stigma that goes with it - a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision has made it clear that the Adam Walsh Act is not to be applied retroactively. This means that anyone convicted prior to 2008 cannot use the Adam Walsh Act to terminate his or her duty to comply with sex offender registration laws, no matter the circumstances.

Details of the court's decision

When reaching its decision, the court noted that the Adam Walsh Act specifically allows only "Tier 1" sex offenders to end their registration duties, and only under certain circumstances. However, anyone convicted prior to 2008 could not be classified as "Tier 1" since Megan's Law only had three categories: sexually oriented offenders, habitual sex offenders and sexual predators.

Since "Tier 1" wasn't a classification option under Megan's Law, the court determined that the sex offender "registration termination procedure delineated in [the Adam Walsh Act] does not apply to sex offenders who committed their offenses prior to January 1, 2008" - meaning these offenders are completely ineligible.

While it remains to be seen whether lawmakers will introduce new legislation to address this issue, the recent opinion certainly illustrates just how complex the laws can be in Ohio when it comes to sex crimes and sex offender registration.

This is one reason why it is so important to speak with an experienced attorney if you are facing allegations of criminal sexual conduct. A knowledgeable lawyer can help protect your rights and explain your legal options.

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