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ACSOL President Chance Oberstein and ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci discussed the new SORNA regulations during an “emergency” meeting held on Dec. 11 for two and a half hours. The meeting was attended by about 250 people from at least 10 different states.
“ACSOL thanks everyone who attended Saturday’s meeting regarding the new SORNA regulations,” stated Bellucci. “It was an opportunity for registrants and family members to hear the views of two experienced and caring attorneys as well as to both ask questions and make comments.”
During the meeting, Oberstein stated that the new regulations are likely to become effective on January 7, 2022, because it is unlikely that Congress will oppose the regulations. He added that the new regulations are unlikely to immediately affect anyone because government notice is required before a registrant can be found in violation.
Bellucci added that government notices are likely to be communicated first to registrants who live in one of the nation’s 18 states that are SORNA compliant. Those states are Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming. The next group of registrants expected to receive notice of new SORNA requirements are individuals convicted of a federal offense who are currently on parole, probation or supervised release.
“The biggest problem caused by the new SORNA regulations is uncertainty,” stated Bellucci. “For example, the new SORNA regulations will increase the number of times some registrants must register from once a year to four times a year. The questions are who are those registrants and when will their new registration requirement begin.”
It is possible that some non-SORNA compliant states will protect their citizens from the new SORNA requirements, according to the ACSOL leaders.
“Despite the assertion that the new SORNA regulations will not increase the cost of registration, state and local governments can be expected to pay a lot more to register individuals if those regulations are implemented,” stated Bellucci. “The new SORNA regulations also falsely claim that they will make it easier for registrants to determine what they are required to do.”
For those required to comply with the new SORNA regulations, the following apply:
- Notify local law enforcement if you are leaving your residence for 7 days or longer
- Provide notice to local law enforcement at least 21 days in advance if you plan to travel overseas
- Disclose all “remote communication identifiers” including internet usernames and phone numbers
- Register up to 15 years if assigned to Tier 1
- Register for 25 years if assigned to Tier 2
- Register for lifetime if assigned to Tier 3
- Disclose occupational and professional licenses
- Disclose vehicle information including location of cars, watercraft and aircraft
- Disclose all passports and immigration documents
In addition to the requirement of government notice, the new SORNA regulations provide a defense if a registrant attempts to comply with the regulations, but finds it is impossible to do so. For example, a registrant who is required to register four times a year may attempt to register more than once, but if local government refuses to register that person four times a year, the federal government may not violate that person.
According to the new SORNA regulations, the new federal regulations are the minimum requirements a registrant must meet. State and local governments may levy additional requirements. As a result, a registrant convicted of possession of child pornography may be assigned to Tier 1 under SORNA yet be assigned to Tier 3 under state law.
The new SORNA regulations provide an exception to the 21-day notice required for overseas travel in case of an emergency. The regulations, however, do not define what is or is not an emergency.
The ACSOL leaders stated that litigation will be necessary in order to challenge several provisions within the new SORNA regulations. The litigation is expected to be initiated during the first quarter of 2022 provided that plaintiffs and financial resources are available.