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Kat’s Blog: There’s No Making Sense of Residency and Presence Restrictions

Registrants receive mixed messages when trying to make sense of the registry’s Residency & Presence Regulations. If you haven’t already, try reading the updated (Sept. 2018) State & Territorial Registration Laws Concerning Visiting & Temporary Residence by Adults. Then read your individual state’s registry rules. It’s like trying to read the newspaper without reading glasses. While state boundary lines may be bold and clear, everything else is small print, blurred and causes a headache.

Every state is different. In some cases every town is different. There are states with no residency or presence regulations (kudos to those states for they have common sense). There are states that hold registrants to 1,000 ft. imaginary boundary lines that serve no credible purpose. Registrants can’t find employment or housing in “off-limit” areas. In those states without restrictions often one must first be off parole or probation before those “non- restriction” restrictions kick-in.

Registration requirements are triggered by the establishment of a “residence”, the dictionary’s meaning of residence is to “dwell for a considerable time, make one’s home, live.” But when registrant’s ask the question, “what’s a considerable time” they get conflicting answers from some authorities or the “just to be safe, it’s best to not stay anywhere over-night” answer from other authorities. Everyone’s interpretation of the written restrictions is different and many are afraid to admit that they don’t completely understand the rules either.

The registry forces adult registrants who are involved in adult relationships to be fearful of spending the night at a partner’s home because it might somehow be considered a “residence” after just one night.

Some state laws read that registrants can stay at another residence for “14 aggregate days” in the calendar year. At first glance, who amongst us understands what that is supposed to mean? I had to look it up, aggregate, it’s the sum total. As it reads, it would seem that one could stay at a residence other than your own for 14 out of 365 days. But then you read the fine print. What if your partner’s home is in an area that is off limits for a registrant? Does that mean you can’t visit during the day? Is that a presence violation? Would you never be able to spend the night? How many consecutive days can you spend at a partner’s residence before it’s considered a “secondary residence”? These “iffy” questions can put a strain on any relationship and you’re left to worry about whether any of these situations could possibly trigger a parole violation or a registry violation.

And yet, no one seems to have the answers to these questions. And “just to be safe, out of an abundance of caution, you probably shouldn’t go there and certainly not spend the night” just doesn’t seem like an appropriate answer to an adult registrant’s questions about residency & presence. It seems very condescending and dismissive.

Registrants are all too often left to figure out on their own the registry’s true meaning when it comes to residency and presence restrictions. Is it confusing “on purpose”, just to trip up registrants? There’s short & long term residency. There’s primary and secondary residency. If you go on vacation out of state there is absurd registry. A 14 day trip and you may not need to register but stay a 15th day then technically you should have registered within 72 hours of the 1st day of your vacation. How would that even be possible? It’s crazy. And yet, these are the way the rules are written for registrants to figure out.

To make matters worse, you are expected to understand not only the rules for the state you reside in, but for any state you may venture to or through, “just to be on the safe side”. The fact that many registrants on parole are prohibited from internet use makes this all the more ludicrous because they can’t research the very regulations they are expected to abide by.

Something is very wrong with our system.

When registrants are expected to abide by residency and presence rules and regulations, those rules and regulations should be clear cut and concise, there shouldn’t be any question as to their meanings and their interpretation should be easily understandable by any and all.

The onus of interpreting poorly written city, state and federal rules and regulations should not be placed on registrants.

 

Kat

Join the discussion

  1. TS

    No, @Kat, the onus should not be on the registrant to interpret the laws, but leaving them to the LEO is not any better since SCOTUS has said it is ok for them to do that and not be legally held accountable. You may read that here in one example: Opinion analysis: Reasonable mistakes of law by police do not violate the Fourth Amendment, http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/12/opinion-analysis-reasonable-mistakes-of-law-by-police-do-not-violate-the-fourth-amendment/ (You will also find what SCOTUS deems as “reasonable” in this article while the header shows the latest watercolor of the current nine sitting in hearing a case. Note, Justice Thomas has his head in his hand.)

    To get specificity in the law, write your elected officials with proposals of what the law should be (including no residency restrictions).

  2. USA

    Well stated. I believe here in Ca, if you read the law carefully, you might have to register in the city you spend the night in periodically (stay at a gf’s periodically/visit relatives). I have 2 very intriguing questions? Please only respond if your truly aware of the answer! Ca SB 384 is going to be implemented in 2021. Do you file the motion to be removed from the registry in the city you reside in (not a trick question) or the city of your conviction? I feel you would have a much better chance filing this in LA, as opposed to OC! I mean, you could plead to the 5th. What if I visit a relative 3 times a year/spend the night at their house (LB) and file my motion (I’m registered in LA and OC) in LA? Let’s here some well informed thoughts!

    • KM

      The new law is clear. You petition in the county you RESIDE, not the county of conviction.

  3. Ali

    Alot of sex registration offices dont take walk ins. so I wonder how does this work especially they are booked during busy holidays?

    • Tony

      I have to register at the end of December. The place I register at is closed during that time. So, they just push my registration appointment to January. They say I’ll still be compliant, but it always makes me very nervous. I’ve tried to ask if I can just register at the beginning of the month just to get it over with. The answer is always “No” with no reason why they can’t do it.

      • R M

        @Tony: You need to cover your butt first and foremost. The registry person may be the only person to arrest you if you don’t register but between the end of Dec and Jan when you register you could get pulled over for a traffic violation perhaps and that officer could arrest you for failure to register. Like I said, cover your butt. In the VERY least get a documented paper from your registry officer that you can’t register until such and such date.

        Recently, my registry officer had a family emergency in which she was out for about a week. I had an appointment with her and was informed when I went in to register that she wasn’t there and that no one else could do the paperwork. I demanded that someone else do it and another officer had to come in and do it. Of course I had to come back the next day (still within my 3 day change of status time frame). If I had waited till the registry officer came back off leave I could have been arrested by any joe blow officer who happened to have contact with me and there would be not-a-damn-thing I could have done about it. Cover your butt… please.

        • TS

          Well said @R M

          It’s imperative any registrant do a CYA move such as documenting a delay like this at LE’s direction by getting something in writing from the chief, sheriff, or someone in a position of authority including the registration person.

      • AJ

        @Tony:
        I second what @R M says. Remember, LEOs can and will lie, even to “regular” citizens, so relying on any sort of goodwill from them is not only useless, but dangerous to your freedom.

        The registering agency is required to comply with, and facilitate your compliance with, the registration laws. Neither it nor you have authority to extend your registration period beyond what the statutes say. Personally, I’d lodge a complaint with whomever oversees the registering official and/or agency…including, if need be, the AG’s office. There’s *always* someone on duty somewhere in the bureaucratic hierarchy to handle the jobs down the chain from them. As well, someone at some level will almost assuredly be unhappy with this sort of activity by the local yokels.

        As @R M and @TS say, absolutely get something in writing that you tried and were deferred.

        (Heck, you could turn the tables on them and anonymously “snitch” to the media that the LEOs are letting all these sex offender menaces roam around unregistered. 😉 )

  4. FinallyOffTheReg

    Kat,

    This well-penned and strong analysis is exactly what is the issue. I would imagine it falls under “dual-sovereign” issues. That is the states make a rule, the feds make a rule. Which rule applies? County makes a rule, state makes a rule…which rule applies? Town makes a rule, county has a rule and town makes it more onerous, which rule applies? Exactly…..it’s FUBAR at best.

    But, who suffers? The RC who is subject to a withering construct of fiefdoms regarding personal motivations of county sheriffs, “alleged concerned soccer mom legislation” and basically LEA idiots who have 600 bucks a week income, a full tank of gas and a sidearm.

    God help the Registrant who has to wade through this morass of conflicts. But, I don’t want to be negative here, it’s an “arrest first figure it out later” mentality for one who may, with no intention run afoul of these containers of “Law”.

    There is no Homogenizing these disparate rules. It’s the fault of SORNA. It’s the fault of many things. However, it’s the RC that suffers and gets arrested for something not even the LEA local, or a County Judge can figure out.

  5. Chris f

    Until we get more than sex offenders affected by this nothing will be done to change it. Until more random cities start having laws targetting people like drunks drivers, we appear stuck. Imagine if someone convicted of driving drunk 20 years ago is arrested for driving through Hicksville Texas between 10pm and 6am due to some local law not allowing anyone ever convicted of that law from doing so. The poor guy will claim he’s been clean 20 years and law abiding and had no way to know on his cross country drive what law every city had and no reason to believe his court determined punishment and the courts job to protect the public wasnt settled at his trial.

    Yet, that is exactly what sex offenders are subjected to.

    The only solution is a proper Scotus ruling that applies strict scrutiny to any law (civil or punitive) restricting someone based on past crimes. This way, level headed and narrowly tailored laws keeping a sex offender from working at a daycare can stand, but banishments, internet restrictions, and public shame lists won’t. They need to justify why any law’s protections of the public couldnt have had their need and duration determined by the judge during sentencing.

  6. Tim Moore

    I think I am going to write to politicians and ask these questions. They approve these laws. If they don’t know, how else can anyone know? Sex offenses are taking over an increasing share of the criminal justice budget, both in prisons and the virtual cell-scape of the registry. The politicians can’t ignore these questions for long — they are costing a lot of resources –especially if we raise these questions to them and publish the answers/failure to answer within our corners of the public square so there is a hope they will spread.

  7. Eric

    I just registered in California an had this confusing issue at the police department concerning requirement #13 (PC290.010) that reads “I you have more than one residence that you regularly reside, regardless of the number of days or night, you must register that address…”) The person registering me said I don’t need to worry unless it is where I live and receive mail. Then they decided to ask someone else to be sure. The other person said, no, it means any place you stay over 5 days. I asked where I might see that written down. So she wanted clarification and asked the supervisor, and the supervisor came over and said, no! Any residence I stay for any length of time on a regular basis I must register it. So I asked if I go to a Bible study each week at someone’s house, or if I play cards every Friday night for several hours at a friends, or if I attend an AA meeting at a recovery home do all those qualify, and she said absolutely. I then said if every registrant registered every residence they regularly visited then nobody could possibly know where anybody lived there would be millions of residences registered making the registry totally ineffective. She agreed it was a “a little confusing.” I then called an attorney familiar with ACSOL and he said don’t stay anywhere without registering. This is total insanity. At least in Utah (I think) it specifies 5 consecutive days. That is easy, if you stay longer than 5 days then you must register. Very clear. You can stay at your partners or relatives a night, play cards, work a job, no problem. CASOMB really needs to revise this, and SCOTUS really needs to void it.

    • R M

      @Eric: Regardless of what the tyrant cops tell you… do what the law says. “Any residence I stay for any length of time on a regular basis I must register it.” That’s just “them” wanting to know what you do. And besides, what defines “length of time”? The law does. You were great in questioning them but also know that “they” can lie legally. I’m not in California, so others with more knowledge can answer.

    • AJ

      @Eric:
      I’d refrain from listening to the ignorami in LE and either read the law myself or consult an attorney (perhaps via a free 30-minute session). Most importantly, I’d find out the definition of “reside.” I’d start with the nearby code (290?) since some States specially and specifically define RC-only terms, then all CA code, then to Black’s law dictionary. Somewhere you will have a suitable definition.

    • Dustin

      In that regard, I would register EVERY SINGLE ADDRESS I EVER GO TO IN THE AREA, to include the registration office, and get all other registrants to do the same. Probably wouldn’t take very long to have every address in town listed, if that ever happened. Wonder how they’d react then?

      • Will Allen

        That’s funny. Does seem like you could list an entire town, in practicality. But then surely even the Registry Harasser geniuses would realize that was not useful and just change their “interpretation” of the law on the fly.

        Frankly, I can’t see how anyone with an IQ over 80 thinks that it would be legal, practical, appropriate, or American to Register the addresses of friends’ homes. If the Registries ARE useful at all, that would certainly do more to help them. Because that is one of the simple, simple ways that the Registries ARE ineffective.

        For example, in my case I have my home Registered obviously. Guess who the people are whom I never interact with and know nothing about me? The people living around me. They are no different than the wildlife that live all around me. To me, they don’t look, appear, or act any differently than all the deer, raccoons, etc. who are milling around. But I have a very active social life completely removed from any Registration. All over the place. The Registries have no chance of stopping me from doing anything.

        Anyway, @Eric and others, personally, I know and understand the laws that affect me and if I see any “requirement” on the Registration forms that I know is wrong, I mark it out. I certainly don’t initial or sign it. Law enforcement is ALWAYS operating outside of the law. Always.

  8. USA

    Well stated Eric! Correct. If you read the law in detail, you must register both locations? What do you consider your primary residence? This is what I mean! What if I live in OC and visit another residence in LB 1-3 times per week? Hmmm

    • AJ

      @USA:
      “What if I live in OC and visit another residence in LB 1-3 times per week?”
      —–
      Sometimes once, sometimes twice, sometimes thrice? Sure sounds irregular to me. 😉

  9. USA

    Intriguing! Very well written! Nicely done. I’m wondering how someone who sounds very intellectual could put themselves on the registry in today’s world? Kat, I think it’s time to introduce yourself! I’m beginning to wonder if Kat truly exists? Ghost writer? Hmmmm

    • R M

      @USA: What does that matter to you? “I’m wondering how someone who sounds very intellectual could put themselves on the registry in today’s world? Kat, I think it’s time to introduce yourself! I’m beginning to wonder if Kat truly exists? Ghost writer? Hmmmm”

      One, there are many intelligent people caught up in this mess.
      Two, no one needs to introduce themselves.
      Three, Kat has questions and an opinion, it’s your choice to believe them, dismiss them, or counter them with law, studies, reports, etc.

  10. Warlock

    I was convicted of a Failure to Register charge in Oregon despite only sleeping in my car at the location where I was registered. I had a GF in another county and permission to visit her, but not sleep there. She would often come stay the night with me in my car so we could be together. I did use her address to receive my mail (with permission from my P.O.) and had my driver’s license sent there.

    While the county that I lived in considered where you slept to be where you should register, the other county felt that you should register at your mailing address. I was arrested for FTR and released a couple hours later on my own recognizance.

    I demurred to the indictment, arguing that the definition of residence was vague and varied according to different regions. I used several case laws from other states to support my demurrer. The prosecutor just argued that I was stalling and that case law from other states should be ignored.

    During trial, the prosecutor brought in several witnesses to verify that I had visited my GF. None accused me of sleeping there. I did not dispute this. Instead, I brought in witnesses to show that I was sleeping in my car where I was registered.

    I am not sure if the prosecutor forgot to bring up my D.L. address or if nobody showed up from the DMV. Either way, the jury never saw my D.L. address.

    The prosecutors final argument was basically that I was blaming my P.O. for not registering at my GF’s address. He never argued that I should have registered there or even that I slept there.

    I argued that I was told to register where I slept and that was what I did. I had witnesses verifying that I slept at my registered address and the gal that I had subpoenaed from the police station verified I was registered there also. I didn’t try to argue reasonable doubt, I actually argued that I was innocent.

    I really didn’t see how I could lose the case, but the jury came back 3 hours later with a guilty verdict. Which taught me a lesson. Even if I can prove my innocence, I will still always be convicted because I am a sex offender.

    The judge sentenced me to 11 months in jail with no possibility for work release. One tiny ray of sunshine in the whole mess was that the jail warden told me that there was a lot of bragging about my conviction. There had been a lot of political stuff about sex offender’s in their county due to Ward Weaver raping and killing two girls a few years earlier. They were taking it out on me.

    The warden knew my conviction was a political thing and he allowed me to go to a work release center after 2 months. I was allowed to leave during the day and because I wasn’t officially on work release, I didn’t have to give half my paycheck to the work release center like the other inmates there.

    BTW, once I was released, I noticed that the registration forms changed. They included both a residence address and a mailing address.

    • Will Allen

      A mailing address?!! That’s nonsense. I’m very sorry for your problems.

      A mailing address has nothing to do with where a person lives or spends his/her time. The only legitimate reason that I can see them even asking for it is to allow for written communications. It is not “needed” for anything else.

      It is nonsense like this which destroys any credibility that the Registries could possibly have. It also leads me to the fact that if these helpless people actually “need” Registries and want them, then they should be 100% responsible for collecting any information that they want. No crime called “Failure to Register” should exist or be possible. All data collection and dissemination should be 100% the responsibility of Nanny Big Government. They love to lie all the time about how they “verify” that information and are “monitoring” people. So let them verify it and monitor. If they truly were capable at all of any useful “tracking”, they need to prove it and do it.

      Personally, I won’t accept being arrested for ANYTHING related to Registration. I cannot say here what I would do if that were to happen because ACSOL won’t let me. We have to pretend to be nice. So let’s just say that I would retaliate by any means that is legal. Any means. Society would suffer magnitudes more harm than I would.

      Lastly, if I were you, I would not call myself names like “$EX offender”. I certainly wouldn’t let anyone else do it either.

      • AJ

        “A mailing address?!! That’s nonsense.”
        —–
        Agreed. I think I’d set up my mailing address at a UPS Store or get a P.O. Box, then register my “Suite” with them. Wouldn’t it be funny to see *that* “compliance check”?

        I don’t get how where I get my mail is helpful with any of the claimed public safety benefits.

        • Will Allen

          I could clarify a bit – I don’t have any issue that Nanny Big Government would require a mailing address (as long as they don’t make it public). I think it could easily be justified by them saying that in order to administer their BS “laws”, they need to be able contact you via mail when/if/as needed.

          My only issue is that apparently in this case they were requiring that address be an address that they like. A person could receive mail at 10 addresses and they certainly should not have to report all of those. That is the nonsense part. The only reason that a criminal regime ought to be able to arrest a citizen because of a mailing address is if it were specifically required only for communications and the citizen *intentionally* gave an address that did not work.

          Somewhat related – like all criminal regimes, the state in which I live always operates outside of the law, even in cases where the law is crystal clear (which is rare). Telephone numbers are not required by law but the local criminal regimes always ask for them. I just mark that part out, along with more than 1/3 of the rest of the form. Never just leave something blank because the criminals might fill it in incorrectly for you.

          That is one thing that really irritates me about the idiots in big government. They just have no clue how to not be offensive, un-American a**holes. The law is clear about what information is required, so why not simply follow the law? Wouldn’t that even be easier? And what is wrong with them? If they did that, they could also have an additional form that says something like, “This information is not required by law but we would appreciate it if you would provide it.” They could act like they are humans. They might actually get the information then. As it is, they are guaranteeing that they won’t. Can’t fix stupid but I do think you can fix a**holes.

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