Maryland passed its first sex offender registration law in 1995. That law applied to all crimes committed after October 1, 1995. The law was amended several times between 2001 and 20010 to require that sex offender registration be retroactive. The 2010 amendment specifically created a se offender tier classification system. Tier III sex offenders, the most serious classification, require the offender to register every three months for the rest of their lives.
In 2014, the Maryland Court of Appeals held “that circuit courts have the power to order the removal of sex offenders from the state’s registry, thereby impacting federal databases as well; the decision followed a prior ruling in which the Court found the state’s sex offender registry requirements could not be imposed retroactively.” The case was John Doe v. Dept. of Public Safety, 430 Md. 535, 62 A.3d 123 (2013), in which “John Doe,” a former junior high school teacher, was charged with sex crimes by a former student in 2005 for abuse that occurred in the 1980s. John Doe pled guilty to one count of child sexual abuse in 2006 which resulted in a 10 years sentence, of which 5 and ½ years were suspended. In addition, he received 3 years’ probation.
The facts of the case
One condition of the sentence was that Doe was required to register as a child sex offender – which was stricken after Doe contested that requirement. In October 2009, his probation order threatened Doe with arrest and being sent back to jail unless he registered as a sex offender. Doe complied in October 2009. The next year, the 2010 Maryland amendment was passed. Doe was classified as a Tier III sex offender, requiring the continual 90 day registrations for life.
Doe’s motion requesting a ruling that he wasn’t required to register as a sex offender was denied by the trial court. Doe then appealed the denial to the Court of Special Appeals which also denied his motion. The Maryland Court of Appeals granted his request (overturning the denial) in 2013.
The Maryland Court of Appeals held that the law effectively required Doe to be on probation and to be shamed – for life – which was “tantamount to imposing an additional sanction for Petitioner’s crime.” The requirement that Doe register as an offender, under a law which wasn’t passed until after his conviction and sentence, was a violation of the “the ex post facto prohibition of Article 17 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.”
As such, the Court ordered that Doe’s name and information be removed from:
- The Maryland Sex Offender Registry website
- State and local law enforcement databases within Maryland
- All federal databases include the FBI’s National Crime Information Center
Maryland then appealed this decision claiming that the federal registration requirements under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) mandated the registration. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled no, giving the power of removal to the circuit courts.
Additionally, the Maryland Court of Appeals held that while circuit courts don’t have the direct power to order registration information from federal databases, the “only relevant database is the Maryland registry” since the information in the federal databases is provided by the state.
At Carey Law Office, an experienced Bowie and Crofton sex crimes lawyer understands how drastically a sex crime conviction affects your life. In addition to jail time and large fines, anyone convicted of a sex crime may face a lifetime of being labeled a sex offender which can make it extremely difficult to be employed or find a place to live. We fight to have sex crime charges dismissed, to obtain acquittals, or to negotiate just plea bargains. We have the experience and resources to help aggressively fight sex crime charges. To discuss you case, call us at 301-464-2500 or complete our contact form to make an appointment.