The THE STATE OF MONTANA Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the State’s felony charge against him for failure to register as a sexual offender, holding that the Sexual or Violent Offender Registration Act (SVORA), as amended since 2007, was punitive in nature.
Defendant was convicted of sexual assault in 1994 and served and discharged his sentence. At the time, SVORA, known then as Montana’s Sexual offender Registration Act, required Defendant to maintain registration for ten years. When the legislature amended SVORA, it included more onerous steps and applied them retroactively to previously convicted registrants such as Defendant. In 2019, Defendant was charged with failure to register. Defendant appealed, arguing that the amended SVORA requirements rendered the statute an unconstitutional ex post facto punishment for his earlier crime. The STATE OF MONTANA Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) SVORA as amended is punitive in nature; and (2) therefore, the requirements brought on by those amendments could not retroactively be applied to defendants whose convictions predate the amendments.