The Michigan Court of Appeals recently ruled that homeless sex offenders are not required by the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA), MCL 28.721 et seq. to register on the sex offenders registry. The Public Sex Offenders Registry (PSOR) is a public information website that can be accessed by anyone to locate sex offenders in their neighborhood.
In People v. Dowdy, the Court of Appeals for the Ingham Circuit Court held that the very fact that a person is homeless, and has no permanent residence, makes it impossible for a homeless person to comply with the law requiring convicted sex offenders to report their “domicile or residence.”
Ironically, Dowdy, 61, became homeless in 2006 after he was kicked out of homeless shelter as the result of his sex offender status. Because he no longer had an address, he did not register on the PSOR. The Court of Appeals agreed with his failure to register, finding that the lack of residence negates the registry requirement.
A similar case is currently pending in Bay County.
SORA has recently drawn criticism, precisely because it requires too many people to register, and once your name is on the list you may face serious consequences such as job loss, disqualification for obtaining students loans, disqualification for government programs, the loss of freedom to live or visit where you choose and the of freedom to attend certain schools. Failing to register also brings harsh penalties including additional criminal charges and possible incarceration.
For more information or if you are unclear what specific reporting requirements are necessary to comply with the Act, an experienced criminal attorney at Grabel & Associates can help.