After years of criticism and unfair treatment of those convicted of minor sex offenses, the state Senate has approved a bill that will significantly alter the Michigan Sex Offenders Registry.
As a result of the new Michigan sex crimes registry legislation, juvenile offenders will no longer make the public list. Those involved in “Romeo and Juliet” cases – where consenting teens have sex – will not be placed on the list as long as the number of years separating the youths is no more than four years.
Other changes include categorizing the offenders into Tiers, with the most serious on Tier 3. Tier 1 offenders may be able to petition for removal after 10 years for good behavior. The reforms will put Michigan’s registry in compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act.
The sex crimes registry was originally intended to notify citizens if a child predator lives in the area. However, predators only represent a small slice of the nearly 40,000 names on the list, with some people’s names remaining on the list long after their misdemeanor convictions were expunged by the courts.
Supporters applaud the changes for making Michigan’s sex offender registry less “brutal and stigmatizing” for teenagers, but note that more reforms are necessary to avoid unjust consequences.
As stated in a recent editorial published in the Detroit Free Press, “Getting rid of Romeo and Juliet cases should jump-start a broader debate on how to refine and improve and overreaching requirement that no longer serves its intended purpose.”
At the Michigan sex crimes defense firm of Grabel & Associates, we agree. We are encouraged by the reforms but believe additional changes are necessary. Too often people on the registry are unfairly denied job and educational opportunities, and not able to live in a place of their choosing, pushing them back into the criminal justice system.
For more information, or if you have been charged with any Michigan sex offense, please contact the experienced Michigan sex crimes defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates for a free confidential consultation.