Articles Posted in Sex Offenders Registry

Some offenders who are convicted of sex crimes truly do commit horrendous acts; others may be found guilty regardless of whether they committed the crime based on testimony or weak evidence rather than scientific or “concrete” evidence. Even more, some may commit an offense that compared to others is relatively minor, such as indecent exposure. Unfortunately, the majority of residents in Michigan and other states think of those who are on the sex offender registry as “predators,” monsters who prey on others for sexual purposes at every opportunity. iStock_000000341623_Large-2-300x200

There are three tiers on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry which essentially categorizes those convicted of sex crimes into those who were convicted of less serious crimes to those convicted of the most severe sex offenses. Tier I is the least serious, with Tier III reserved for the most violent or serious offenders. Depending on the severity of the crime, a person may be classified a Tier II offender, which means his or her name will remain on the sex offender registry for 25 years, accessible on the Internet by all who are interested. In the case of someone classified a Tier III offender, anyone can find that person on the public sex offender registry for a life time. Information including address, name, place of employment, vehicle information, criminal offense, and photo of the offender may be available for anyone who wishes to access.

The fact is that being placed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry can be life-changing, and not in a positive way. Those who are registered must inform authorities of every address or employment change. Neighbors are alerted to the fact a sex offender lives in their neighborhood or community. You can imagine the social stigma those who are placed on the sex offender registry face, regardless of the underlying circumstances that led to a person being on the registry. People are quick to jump to conclusions, thinking someone who is listed on the registry must have committed a horrendous crime and is a serious threat to everyone who lives in the neighborhood. It’s a stigma that never goes away, even for those lucky enough to escape listing after a quarter of a century.

Anyone who is a registered sex offender knows the negative impact it has on your life.  Most sex offenders are shunned by society, have problems finding employment or housing, and face other tough issues.  Whether you’ve been required to register for 15 years or a lifetime, any time at all spend on the Sex Offender Registry, or SORA, is too much time.  Is there a way to get off the list?  Perhaps.  We’ve included what you need to know below.

First of all, who’s eligible to petition for removal from SORA?

There are basically four scenarios in which someone who has been convicted and is currently on the sex offender registry can petition for removal from SORA through the trial court.

These include:

Romeo & Juliet (consent cases)
Juvenile offenders (determination)
SORA registrants convicted of crimes that no longer require registration
Tier I and Tier III offenders no longer considered a threat to public safety

It is important to note that when filing a petition to have your name removed from SORA, you get only one opportunity to get it right.  For this reason, it’s recommended you consult a qualified attorney.
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On Wednesday August 6, 45-year-old Bruce Scherzer of Bay city was arraigned on five felony charges in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a girl who is younger than 13, according to news reports at Mlive.com. sad-silhouette-1080946-m

The girl reported the two incidents, which allegedly took place in July, to staff at the Nathan Weidner Children’s Advocacy Center. She claimed that Scherzer had touched her private area, and had her touch his private area at a Bangor Township residence, and claimed that he had sex with her on two different occasions.

Scherzer is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13, an offense that if convicted could leave him facing up to life in prison. The mandatory minimum sentence for a conviction of first-degree CSC with someone younger than 13 is 25 years. Scherzer is also charged with three counts of second-degree CSC with a person younger than 13, a 15-year felony.

Scherzer, a married father of four children, requested that Bay County District Judge Mark E. Janer appoint him an attorney, as he could not afford to hire a lawyer himself. His bond was set at $200,000 as requested by the prosecutor, who said Scherzer had been convicted on a conspiracy to commit armed robbery charge back in the mid-90’s.

Protecting a defendant’s freedom and reputation can be extremely tough in sexual assault cases, particularly when children are involved. As all Michigan sex crime attorneys are aware, too many innocent people are found guilty of crimes of this nature. Children are easily influenced by adults, who may coerce them into making up stories or saying things that are not factual. While children are sexually abused in our country every day, there are unfortunately many cases in which innocent individuals sit behind bars today.

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Last week, 54-year-old Cameron Thor, an acting coach in Los Angeles who has appeared in several movies and gave teens acting lessons, was charged with 14 counts of sexual assault against a minor and kidnapping, according to an article at Deadline|Hollywood. The charges are in connection with a 13-year-old girl whom Thor gave acting lessons to in 2008, when the alleged sexual assault took place. film-clapper-4-975857-m

Thor’s arraignment was originally scheduled for Thursday June 5, but was postponed to June 19. Thor gave acting lessons in the Carter Thor Studio in Studio City, CA. The District Attorney in the case claims that the 13-year-old girl was given marijuana by Thor before he sexually assaulted her. Thor, perhaps best known for a bit part in Jurassic Park, allegedly raped the girl in a secluded area in Los Angeles’ tony Agoura Hills section. The sexual assaults are said to have taken place over a time span of 11 months, beginning in April of 2008 and continuing until March of 2009, according to the NY Daily News.

At last report, Thor was in jail on a $2.6 million bail.

When penetration is involved, those accused face extremely serious criminal penalties if found guilty. In California, statutory rape will leave the accused individual facing up to 5 years in prison if charged as a felony offense. Statutory rape is considered a “wobbler” offense in the state, which means it may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The law is very different in Michigan, where statutory rape is typically charged as third-degree criminal sexual conduct and punished by a maximum of 15 years in prison.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most serious sex offense charge in Michigan, and will leave the defendant facing up to life in prison if convicted. In addition, the majority of offenders are required to register on Michigan’s sex offender registry, which means their information can be viewed by anyone who chooses to search the website including friends, co-workers, potential employers, and others.

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man in hand cuffsA Michigan man has been charged with 35 crimes connected to the alleged sexual assault of four teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 15, according to a news article at Mlive.com.  67-year-old Benny R. Grimes of Taylor has been charged with multiple counts of child sexual abusive activity, first- and second-degree sexual assault, and using a computer to commit a crime.  He remains in jail and has been denied bail.

On April 7 the Melvindale Police Department received a complaint regarding an incident which allegedly occurred in Taylor.  Grimes is accused of both sexually assaulting the girls in addition to videotaping and photographing the victims while they were engaged in sexual acts.  Grimes was arrested on April 8th, and is scheduled to appear in 23rd District Court on April 21 for a preliminary exam.

First-degree sexual assault, or criminal sexual conduct, is the most serious sex offense of all in the state of Michigan.  Individuals who are found guilty will face criminal penalties which include up to life in prison.  A felony offense, first-degree CSC involves penetration, and is a charge incurred when certain circumstances accompany the penetration, such as the fact that the victim or victims are between the ages of 13 and 16.  Continue reading

In 1996, Steven D. Young, a Bangor Township resident, pleaded no contest to a single count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 13 years of age.  He was sentenced to eight to 30 years in prison the following February, and paroled by the Michigan Department of Corrections in May of 2012.  Now, Young faces up to 15 years in prison for violating his parole after authorities discovered that Young maintains a Facebook page under another name, and runs an off-the-books tattoo parlor.

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According to a news report at Mlive.com, an unnamed tipster informed the Bay City Public Safety Department about Young’s Facebook page, saying that Young was using the name Steve Wolcott and that he was becoming friends on the social media site with single mothers of young children.  Bay City police then contacted a Sex Offender Registry Coordinator at the Michigan State Police Tri-City Post.

Young had apparently posted a picture of himself giving another man a tattoo in a kitchen, which the tipster compared with a mug shot of Young.  The tipster then provided police with the picture from “Wolcott’s” Facebook page along with a mug shot of Young for comparison.  Police determined that Steve Wolcott was indeed Steven D. Young.

Derrick Conway, a 50-year-old Saginaw man, has been charged with sexually assaulting a mentally handicapped woman from April to June of this year, according to a news article at Mlive.com. Conway, who was charged with five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, underwent examination to determine if he is mentally fit to face trial. The defendant was found mentally competent according to a report from the Center for Forensic Psychiatry. stamp-of-finger-233433-m.jpg

The alleged victim is said to be in her early 20s. According to his arrest warrant Conway assaulted the victim who was determined to be mentally incapacitated or incapable, or physically helpless using coercion or force and/or caused personal injury. Conway’s defense lawyer, Philip Sturtz, requested an exam to determine whether his client is mentally fit. Following Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson’s ruling on Monday that Conway is mentally fit to stand trial, his preliminary hearing was scheduled for December 19. A preliminary hearing is when it is determined whether probable cause exists for trial.

If convicted, Conway will face a maximum sentence of life in prison. He remains in jail on a $500,000 bond.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most serious sex crime of all, leaving those accused facing life-changing penalties if convicted. Depending on the circumstances, individuals who are found guilty may be sentenced to up to life behind bars. All sex offenses are serious, and require the legal guidance and support of a capable Michigan sex crime defense attorney.

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On Thursday October 24, 30-year-old Carl Lee Dobbins was arrested in Marion, Indiana. Authorities had been in search of Dobbins, who allegedly failed to comply with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. thumb-print-1-1231735-m.jpg

Dobbins was wanted on several violations according to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office; there were three outstanding warrants in Michigan, including a bench warrant for failure to pay costs and fines required under Michigan sex offender laws, and failure to pay costs/fines to Kalamazoo Public Safety in connection with a traffic violation.

The defendant believed that if he fled to Indiana, Michigan authorities would not attempt to arrest him according to a news article at Mlive.com. Indiana police found that Dobbins was wanted in Van Buren County, and informed him of the fact. However, he refused to return and was extradited back to Michigan after the Michigan State Police Extradition Team, sheriff’s investigators, and prosecutors determined to have him arrested in Indiana. He was arrested without incident in Indiana and jailed before being escorted to the Van Buren County Jail in Michigan by State Police.

Dobbins has been arraigned on the outstanding warrants, however no dates have been released regarding future court hearings.

Failing to register on the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry is a serious offense, a separate crime from the underlying criminal offense which resulted in Dobbins being ordered to register. Individuals must report changes in contact information, residence, and employment to the registry; failure to do so will result in serious consequences. Depending on the underlying sex offense an individuals is convicted of, some are required to register every three months. Moving out of state and failing to register is a felony offense which may result in a four year prison sentence.

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This year makes the 10th year Michigan State Police have participated in an initiative known as “Operation Verify,” a program designed to catch offenders who do not comply with registration rules. With the Halloween holiday coming up, state police are getting ready to arrest sex offenders who fail to register. All tier 3 offenders are required to report in person to the local sheriff’s office, police station, or Michigan State Police post to verify residence address. This registration period runs from October 1 through October 15. pumpkin-patch-1-1418672-m.jpg

According to data on the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry, there are approximately 40,000 registered sex offenders in the Detroit area. Police will begin sweeping the area for tier 3 offenders who fail to register between the dates mentioned above; those who fail to comply will be arrested, according to an article at Mlive.com.

Michigan sex crime defense attorneys know the negative impact being placed on the sex offender registry has to those who must register. Not only may you experience lost job opportunities, but loss of freedom to choose where you want to live and which schools you want to attend. You may also not qualify for government programs or student loans. In general, your qualify of life will be affected. Essentially, being a registered sex offender can ruin your life.

When you are required to register, anyone in the world can access the information on a public information website. Ultimately, the stigma of being a sex offender can follow you everywhere you go for the rest of your life.

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Chad Eric Servis, a 42-year-old Wyoming resident, was recently charged with two counts of accosting children for immoral purposes as a repeat offender after allegedly attempting to get three boys who were under the age of 16 to go with him to a secluded area of Ideal Park. The boys were playing basketball on a court near the park when the incident took place.

According to a news article at Mlive.com, the boys did not go with Servis, but went and told their parents about Servis. At that point, the parents along with other family members went back to the park and located Servis, then detained the suspect until police arrived on the scene.

Wyoming police said that Servis had items in his possession which were sex related, including handcuffs, lubricant, a blindfold and other items. If convicted, Servis could spend up to 10 years in prison. Wyoming Police Officer Jonathan Durall said that the suspect admitted that he was sexually attracted to young boys.

The incident occurred on June 29 at approximately 7 p.m. Servis was arraigned on Monday July 1 in Wyoming District Court, and is being held on a $100,000 bond in the Kent County Jail. A probable cause hearing has been scheduled for July 10.

Michigan sex crime attorneys know that in situations such as this one, the suspect will likely face more severe penalties than usual because of the fact he is a repeat sexual offender. Sex offenses are punished severely in the state of Michigan, particularly those involving minors. However, in cases where there is no hard physical evidence, it can also be a case of one person’s word against another, which means many innocent people sit behind bars today for crimes they did not commit.

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