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Turning Back The Clock On Sex Offender Punishment?


A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit has turned back the clock on Michigan’s sex offender registration laws. 

In the case of John Does #1-5 v. Snyder, the court ruled that amendments to Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) were unconstitutional due to imposing retroactive punishments on sex offenders who had already been punished according to the laws at the time of their conviction.

Alice Batchelder, the presiding judge, said, “We conclude that Michigan’s SORA imposes punishment. And while many (certainly not all) sex offenses involve abominable, almost unspeakable conduct that deserves severe legal penalties, punishment may never be retroactively imposed or increased.”

What does this ruling mean for sex offenders and our communities? 

For people who were convicted of a sexually based offense prior to the 2006 and 2011 SORA amendments, the ruling provides an opportunity to make adjustments, including nullifying the longer duration on the sex offender registry. 

These individuals can go back to sentencing court for an adjusted sentence that does not include the punishments included in the 2006 and 2011 amendments. 

To explore taking advantage of this window of opportunity, it is beneficial to consult a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with Michigan’s sex crimes laws and up to speed on the most recent developments. 

Click here to learn how we can help you resolve your SORA-related matter. 

A Message To Our Fellow Community Members

These developments may seem alarming. After all, there is little desire in our society to look out for the constitutional rights of sex offenders.

However, it is important to realize that this ruling does not represent a weakening of our sex crimes laws or let offenders off the hook.

The changes only apply to those who were punished more harshly retroactively after already being convicted and serving their time. The punitive measures of the 2006 and 2011 SORA amendments are still in place to punish new offenders and act as a deterrent to would-be offenders.