Homeless Sex Offenders Required To Register

The Michigan Supreme Court has recently ruled that homeless sex offenders must report where they live under the Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA). A divided Supreme Court wrote that homelessness “in no way prevents (an) offender from physically entering a law enforcement agency and truthfully reporting information regarding the offender’s residence.”

If you have if you have been charged with a sex crime or have questions concerning Michigan sex offender registration, it is important to speak with a Michigan sex crimes defense attorney to help ensure you follow the proper procedures and prepare an aggressive defense.

The recent Supreme Court case arose out of a situation where Randall Dowdy, a man who had served 18 years in prison for kidnapping and rape, was charged with violating sex crimes registration laws when he failed to report his whereabouts and change of address after leaving a Lansing shelter. Although requirements exist that sex offenders contact law enforcement every four months to provide a residential address, Dowdy did not do so because as a homeless man, he had no address. The charges against him were dropped by an Ingham County judge and affirmed by the court of appeals precisely because residency reporting requirements cannot logically be applied to a sex offender without a residence.


On Monday, this decision was overruled by a split court, with the dissent arguing that it’s improper to apply the residency reporting requirements to Dowdy because he doesn’t have a residence as defined by law. Despite the illogical conclusion, the Supreme Court now requires homeless sex offenders to report their address even if they don’t have one.

For more information, or if you have questions concerning the Michigan sex crimes registry, please contact the dedicated Michigan sex crimes defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates for immediate attention.