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SCOTUS to Decide Reach of Sex Offender Registry

The Supreme Court on Friday said it will consider whether the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act requires sex offenders who move to a foreign country to notify their prior home state of their change of residence.

At issue is are the cases of two men who lived on opposite sides of the Missouri River in the Kansas City Metropolitan area, were both convicted of sex crimes in unrelated cases prior to the enactment of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, and later moved — again separately — to the Philippines.

Once _____ _____ and ____ ____ left the country, they neither man updated their sex offender registrations in the respective jurisdictions they’d departed. But because of where they lived before leaving Kansas City, their fates were decided different, and that is what presumably triggered the pending high court review. Full Article


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The impact of this decision will be huge! The number of registered citizens who have fled the U.S. due to the continued punishment of the registry is believed to be large. If the U.S. Supreme Court decides they must continue to update their registration in the U.S., their punishment will continue even though they live overseas. We know of no similar reach overseas by the national government and sincerely hope the Court will reach the correct decision, that is, to overturn this requirement.

Well, there is the “overseas reach” of subjecting Americans to American laws when they are outside of the U.S. That extraordinary bit of overreach occurred a number of years ago with not the faintest of protests. A number of Americans have now been tried and convicted in U.S. courts for violating U.S. laws on age of consent despite the fact that those acts occurred in foreign countries.

If you look at the law carefully, it is not that these people were convicted for violating a U.S. laws on age of consent in a foreign country. It’s that these people were charged with “traveling across a state or national border with the intent to commit an illicit sex act” So essentially, they have done something far more insidious. They have criminalized thought. People have been arrested, charged and convicted simply for getting on a airplane “with the intent.” A basic tenet of law has always been that there must be “act coupled with intent” for there to be a crime, but by making “crossing a border” the “act” they have essentially created thought crime.

Good point but I believe that the ‘illicitness’ to which the law refers does not reference those of the foreign country where they occurred but those of the U.S. (by state? I don’t know).

In other words, the (sovereign) foreign country might not, theoretically, have any such laws prohibiting the particular sex act under consideration but the defendant is to be held to American sex laws.

This is from the ‘Protect Act’ passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003:

“Authorizes fines and/or imprisonment for up to 30 years for U.S. citizens or residents who engage in illicit sexual conduct abroad. For the purposes of this law, illicit sexual conduct is defined as commercial sex with or sexual abuse of anyone under 18, or any sex with anyone under 16.[5][2][6][7][8][9] Previous US law was less strict, only punishing those having sex either in contravention of local laws OR in commerce (prostitution); but did not prohibit non-commercial sex with, for example, a 14-year-old if such sex was legal in the foreign territory.[citation needed]”

Under what authority can they prosecute / punish someone for perfectly legal behavior outside of their physical jurisdiction? Could they prosecute a 20-year old American citizen for consuming alcohol in Italy?

That is just wild…

It has always been as you say, but times are changing. The traditional concept of jurisdiction is being quickly eroded. If politicians want to make a law baring you as a 20 year old from drinking alcohol in another country, they simply make a law, then either try to get you extradited or wait for you to return. Other than being a bizarre concept on it’s face, it sets a horrible legal precedent. Countries are called sovereign for a reason. But no longer. It opens the door for other countries to apply their laws in the US. What if a radical Islamic country wants to punish a dual citizen living in the US for violating Sharia law while in the US? What’s the difference, legally?

They do this for individuals, but let corporations go to other countries to break laws (environmental, child labor) and avoid paying the taxes those who list their addresses in the United States have to pay.

This is from the pertinent section of the ‘Protect Act’ as it was signed into law in 2003:

‘‘PROTECT Act’’2003


(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 2423 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking subsection (b) and inserting the following: S. 151—5

(b) TRAVEL WITH INTENT TO ENGAGE IN ILLICIT SEXUAL CONDUCT.—A person who travels in interstate commerce or travels into the United States, or a United States citizen or an alien admitted for permanent residence in the United States who travels in foreign commerce, for the purpose of engaging in any illicit sexual conduct with another person shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

(c) ENGAGING IN ILLICIT SEXUAL CONDUCT IN FOREIGN PLACES.—Any United States citizen or alien admitted for permanent residence who travels in foreign commerce, and engages in any illicit sexual conduct with another person shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

(d) ANCILLARY OFFENSES.—Whoever, for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, arranges, induces, procures, or facilitates the travel of a person knowing that such a person is traveling in interstate commerce or foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

(e) ATTEMPT AND CONSPIRACY.—Whoever attempts or conspires to violate subsection (a), (b), (c), or (d) shall be punishable in the same manner as a completed violation of that subsection.

(f) DEFINITION.—As used in this section, the term ‘illicit sexual conduct’ means (1) a sexual act (as defined in section 2246) with a person under 18 years of age that would be in violation of chapter 109A if the sexual act occurred in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States; or (2) any commercial sex act (as defined in section 1591) with a person under 18 years of age.

(g) DEFENSE.—In a prosecution under this section based on illicit sexual conduct as defined in subsection (f)(2), it is a defense, which the defendant must establish by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant reasonably believed that the person with whom the defendant engaged in the commercial sex act had attained the age of 18 years.’’.

(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.—Section 2423(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘‘or attempts to do so,’’.

Thank you for all your hard work Janice. Please keep fighting the good fight.

So does this mean that if SCOTUS rules in our favor, we won’t have to notify our government 21 days in advance as per SORNA if we plan international travel? I don’t see how any court in America can’t agree that the position that not being able to hop on a plane right now instead of 21 days from now (which would probably result in my being turned around at the other end) isn’t a violation of my constitutional rights. As someone who has lived most of his life overseas since finishing probation, and who loves to travel, I certainly hope so. I was recently jailed for two weeks and deported back to America from a developing country because ICE notified my host country of my 2001 conviction. Two weeks in a developing country jail is not fun, trust me on that.

If I understand it correctly the issue at hand is whether a registrant who permanently emigrates to a foreign country is required to keep registering in his last state.

There are two cases being considered, both moved out of the country – to the Philippines, I believe.

They both departed from Kansas City airport, but one resided in Kansas City, KS and the other in Kansas City, MO. Apparently those states are in different jurisdictions, and one of these courts decided that such a person would have to keep current their registration in their last state of residence, and the other did not. Hence the SCOTUS review.

Which is absurd. Since the basis for the registry is that neighbors have the right to know who lives on their street, so they can protect their womenfolk and childrenz. Not about a person living in the Far East. Or in a different state.

I guess the one guy would have to appear in person at the local KC cop shop every 90 days to update his registration. That would be some serious frequent flyer miles!

Not to mention that it cannot be in the best interest of public safety to force such a ‘dangerous’ person to spend any time in this country and be present around precious American children… and the fact that surely the Philippines would deny him entry after his first trip ‘home’ – due to the notice from concerned Uncle Sam, forcing him to again live in this country.

Anyway, that is how I understood it, which may be incorrect. If so, anyone please chime in.

I sometimes am in complete disbelief that formally educated and well compensated adults spend their time discussing and contemplating these matters. And p!ssed that I do.

Were you already living in the country when ICE sent them a notification of your conviction? Or did you come back to the US and then it came up on a subsequent trip? What did they try to charge you with? Just curious because I’m currently living overseas but I updated my info before I left. Only thing I can think of is if you didn’t notify travel (if AWA state) or update registration before you left? If you were in compliance with everything and have already been living in a new country and they are sending your conviction info after you are already there then that is worrying. Would seem to indicate that now they are coming for the people who got out before they had their alert system in place.

If you read Gorsuch’s dissent, you can see where our friend in Rhode Island who was arrested and charged for federal FTR could have a defense. This judge felt that the USAG could not require more than what the AWA said – but the requirement to give advance notice and itinerary before traveling more than 7 days, is not in the law, its just some thing the USAG made up. Under this reasoning, the USAG has made a crime without the legislatures consent in violation of separation of powers.

Convicted of a misdemeanor 647.6. My wife, two children (who are Japanese nationals) and I are planning to move to Japan after the first of the year. Getting a spousal visa is the easy part. Actually getting through customs…that’s a question nobody seems to be able to answer, not the embassy, Japanese immigration, nor NSOTC. Hopefully bringing translated paperwork from attorneys, etc will help us all get in. I admit I was wrong, but refuse to accept lifetime punishment. Hopefully this court case will help me and my family live a hassle-free life with a fresh start.

“Some Jews fled Germany, most stayed in the hope that the German sense of justice would prevail . . .” (Jude)
Can you imagine Germany having insisted that emigrating Jews check in with the German government periodically and perhaps continue wearing yellow Stars of David to separate them from the mainstream society in other countries?

Here we have yet more of the illogical logic being applied in a manner that serves no useful purpose; again. If anyone can enlighten me as to what, if any, need is served by forcing someone to register in a place they no longer live I would be grateful.

This is another clear example of the non uniformity of these laws and clear cut evidence of persecution. These two victims of the registry were obviously living law abiding lives in the new places they called home, so I’m stumped again as to how not allowing these two people to get on with their lives is keeping children safe. Really, this doesn’t look anything like anything designed to keep children safe, let alone serve some kind of purpose other than to impose someones will upon another.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is coming from a country (usa) that has appointed it’s self arbiter of how the world should think and act, even when the world doesn’t want to be told how to think and act, and most everywhere it imposes its will bad things happen, like millions of innocent people being either killed or displaced from their homes and their countries thrust into ruin and anarchy.

Isaiah 3:4 “And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.”

Isaiah 3:5 “And the People shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.”

The “base” is the criminal. This is saying that the people will be so confused that they will not know right from wrong, the left from the right, and everything will be turned up-side-down, and back-side-front.

And sides by each.

This all comes down to whether the posecution can successfully argue that NOT receiving info from foreign registrants puts the US in danger. I was convicted in a state that requires non-residents to continue to register after moving out-of-state. This was challenged in state Supreme Court and upheld because the state is put at risk when the registrant does not keep them informed of their whereabouts. I would imagine a similar arguement could be made on the federal level…

Kevin, forgive my ignorance, but how do you register in the original state when you are living out of state? In all states that I know of, registration is in-person even if, as in Virginia, the state mails the registrant the paperwork beforehand. I just don’t see how a state can demand that someone register if they have moved across the country. It’s not like someone living in, say, Maine, can easily travel to, say, Idaho, to register once a year, or twice a year, or, god forbid, every 90 days. And the same would go for overseas. How does one register if, everywhere, in-person registration is demanded?

The state I am required to register in, Wisconsin, does not require in person registration. They simply mail out a form which must be filled out and returned within 10 days. As crazy as it sounds, the state does in fact enforce this. I’ve spoken to a defense lawyer who told me he had an out-of-state client that was extradited over 1,500 miles to face failure to register charges. He went on to tell me his client pled guilty, was sentenced to a small fine and time served and was sent on his way. He said the fine probably didn’t even cover the cost of the extradition.

This is also true of New York. I lived there for a year before returning to California. Each year I receive a letter from New York to update my registration.

The justification of the registry is the ability, no – the right, of the public to protect itself from offenders residing in one’s vicinity.

What can possibly be the public safety value of making a person register an address, presumably no longer a viable residence, outside of the state, thousands of miles away?

While, no doubt, a giant pain in the arse, all of this is good as eventually it will expose this non-punitive, public safety registry as the fraud that it is.

Not today, not tomorrow, but some day.

I believe the rational the judge used in his decision was that IF the registrant decided to move just over the border to a neighboring state, the originating state would benefit greatly from knowing his whereabouts. It made absolutely no difference that the registrants in the case lived thousands of miles away (FL and NY I believe).

Where does this BS end? There’s no proof that registries reduce sex crimes. And yet, they keep extending and expanding the requirements, forever and to the ends of the earth! All of these requirements just continue adding more legal twists and traps. Aaargh!!! (Sorry, I really needed to vent my frustration.)

@Janice or whomever
Quick question, does this case have a chance of impacting the Smith v. Doe decision based on ex post facto application of SORNA to those who where convicted before Megan’s Law?

I’d like to know this as well. If someone is required to continue registration requirements when they no longer live in this country, I’m not sure how anyone could maintain registration is strictly administrative rather than punishment. Then again, when looking at everything else that comes with registration these days, one would think the same thing…

Actually I tried to claim political asylum in Argentina in 2011. I had legal help from students of a law class from the the University of Buenos Aries, in the equivalent of their supreme Court. But I was being denied that because they don’t consider priceclub membership to be all that bad. Although I had a legal right and excuse to stay there, if I had stayed I could have got residentcy. And that should have lead to duel citizenship. But alas I made a big mistake and was lured back to this country for an job that never manifested.I currently can’t get another passport.

Hi Tim, I too lived in Argentina from 2007 to 2012 and made the mistake of returning to the US thinking I could simply inform the police in California that I was relocating overseas as I had done the previous time. I was denied entry last year to Argentina and immigration there told me that they were fine with me returning (paperwork was no problem) BUT that the US Government requested that I be returned.

I would like to discuss this with you as I too was in contact with a lawyer there in Buenos Aires. If you write the admins of this site they are authorized to give you my email address. I would like to discuss options and we might be able to share information that is mutually beneficial and get out of this trap!

OK I will.

You can email me here

My guess is that, given the present constitution of the Court, they will not touch Smith v. Doe in deciding this case nor would we likely see an overturning of that decision by the present Court. The Robert’s court would, I believe, be loathe to hear any case which brings Smith v. Doe before it for reconsideration.

I would also say that we should not get our hopes up about the case at hand. It’s hard to imagine them not accommodating the government’s demands here.

I hope I’m wrong.

They just keep piling on don’t they!

I think we all know how this is going to turn out and it is just one more nail in the coffin of any rights for those of us who have played totally by the rules…crossed every T and dotted every I and jumped through all the hoops YET STILL are never relieved of the PUNISHMENT place on those labeled as “sex offenders” regardless of the actual “crime” or even if they ended up on this hateful HIT LIST due to bad legal advice and are in many cases totally INNOCENT!

We’re in a very, very long game. Short term, Supreme Court-wise, it looks very bleak. The much longer term looks considerably better, however.

Well, long term we all die in the end and will finally be free of these stupid rules man has created to keep other men chained … however, I would like to live the only life that I personally have NOW while I am still breathing and fit enough to enjoy life!

They have no right controlling me until I expire. I don’t care if I sound selfish but I am only concerned about me and right now.

Isn’t what this case about is the fact that these two people just left without ever updating the jurisdiction where they were registered? How could this ruling make people who left and updated their info before hand or within the required timeframe have to continue updating their info? I left the US three years ago but I went in and filled out a form saying I was moving. Current address, new address, etc. I said that I didn’t have a new address yet, just that I knew I wasn’t coming back to the US. For new address I just put the city/country that I was arriving in, and they said that was fine. It was a one way ticket. All she told me was make sure I comply with any registration requirements in the country I was going to (none).

Which country did you move to if you don’t mind me asking? I am considering moving out of the country once I am done with school.

Sorry I’d rather not say here…I’m pretty sure its compromised now anyways as I’ve read reports of people in neighboring countries being denied entry under the new policy with the alerts being sent.

Is there any indication that the U.S. jurisdiction you were leaving informed your destination country of your relocation?


No idea…but when boarding the int’l flight there were three DHS agents at the gate as everyone was entering the jetway to enter the plane, checking everyone’s tickets/passports. After showing them my passport I was pulled aside and they made me open my carry on and they searched everything, turned on my camera/ipod to snoop around while asking me questions like where my final destination was while another agent was writing everything in a notebook. So I was pretty nervous on arrival but luckily I got in. This was in early 2012 so I don’t think they were sending alerts yet, at least not on the level that they are now.

Whitman Price & Haddad-

That is how I read the cases as well: Leaving/moving without updating registering jurisdiction as required.

Did you leave from California? And California is your state of conviction?

Thanks and good luck!

I have had an ongoing relationship with a lady in the philippines for the past 6 years, went and spent a month there with her and her 4 daughters. We decided that we wanted to stay together and planned to marry in the near future. I came back to the US to work and save money so we could buy a house and open a business for an income, after 5 years all our plans were ready and on January 2 I arrived in the philippines only to be refused by PI Immigration because the US sent a ” green sheet ” to them saying I was a sex offender and had intentions of committing crimes in the philippines. For 6 years I had loved this 52 year old woman , I have supported her , I have paid for school for her children , fed them , provided shelter and have basically been a good parent . Her children refer to me as their father, use my last name , and they make me proud by excelling in their accomplishments . Now our dreams are shattered by a country that is becoming increasingly more of a place that is constantly taking away of my rights to be free even though I have paid my debt to society . We need to let the public know our politicians have passed a law to make sure we live next door to them. Its time to use their own fear tactics against them, my plan is to purchase my own 1/4 page ad in a news paper to inform the public of this law. Its time to reel in the fearmongers in this country, this green sheet notification must be stopped,!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x