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New sex offender registry offers hope, not just harsh outcomes

Current Missouri law potentially provides for the outcome that both a rapist and a person charged with public urination while intoxicated be placed on the state’s Sex Offender Registry for life. The registry does not distinguish between such persons regarding the law’s onerous reporting requirements. Both of them have the same duty to visit a police station four times annually.

That will change tomorrow.

Senate Bill 655 takes legal effect in just a few short hours, and will usher in major changes to Missouri’s registry law. The enactment is widely backed by legions of supporters. Our August 23 blog post stressed the mass discontent concerning the current law’s “everyone lumped together” philosophy. Critics say it denies a second chance to registrants “who are unlikely to ever become second offenders.”

Persons like the intoxicated individual cited above will be labeled “tier-one” offenders in a three-tier scheme under the new law. A sponsor of SB 655 points to data relevant to a low-level offender who does not reoffend for a number of years following a criminal charge. Research shows that such a person is “no more likely to commit a crime than any other general member of the population.”

That reality informs the new scheme’s essential details. Tier-one offenders can petition for registry removal after 10 years. Tier-two individuals will be allowed to seek readjustment after 25 years. Tier-three registrants (those deemed the most dangerous offenders) will continue to have permanent registration and reporting requirements.

Relaxed reporting duties (e.g., annually going forward for level-one offenders instead of quarterly) are expected to materially free up time and resources for law enforcers, which will enable them to operate more efficiently.

Questions or concerns regarding Missouri’s Sex Offender Registry can be directed to an experienced St. Louis criminal defense law firm.

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Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

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