Michigan Court Rules Juveniles Can be Required to Register as Sex Offenders

People convicted of sex crimes typically have to register as sex offenders. Until recently, it was unclear whether this requirement applied to juvenile offenders. A Michigan court recently issued a ruling expressly stating that it does, rejecting the assertion that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. If you are accused of a sex crime, it is wise to meet with a Michigan criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that when the defendant was 16, he was a resident at a juvenile detention facility. The victim, another resident, was engaged in an oral sex act with another resident when the defendant grabbed her buttocks and shoved her head down during the act. The victim reported that while the oral sex act was consensual the defendant’s behavior was not. The defendant was charged with numerous offenses, including third-degree criminal sexual conduction, which was a Tier-III offense that required registration as a sex offender.

Allegedly, the defendant asked to be exempt from the sex offender registration requirement and the court granted his request. The state appealed, and the trial court ruling was reversed. The defendant then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled that the registration requirement constituted punishment but declined to rule on the defendant’s case. The case was remanded back to the intermediate appellate to determine whether the requirement constituted cruel or unusual punishment.

The Sex Offender Registration Requirement in Juvenile Cases

Under Michigan law, cruel or unusual punishment is prohibited, which is broader than the protections offered by the United States Constitution, which bars cruel and unusual punishment. Whether a punishment is cruel or unusual is evaluated by a three-part test that considers the severity of the penalty imposed and the seriousness of the offense, a comparison to the penalties for other crimes under Michigan law, and a comparison of the punishment for the offense under Michigan law and other states.

In the subject case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the registration requirement was disproportionate to the offense and that the requirement imposed a grossly disproportionate penalty in consideration of other crimes in Michigan and similar crimes in other states. Based on the foregoing, the court found that the requirement that the defendant register as a sex offender was not unusual or cruel punishment. As such, the ruling exempting him from the requirement was reversed.

Talk to an Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

A conviction for a sex crime can irreparably alter a person’s life, and may carry a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender. If you are charged with a sex offense, it is prudent to talk to an attorney about your options for protecting your interests. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer who can develop compelling arguments on your behalf to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. You can contact Mr. Bernstein through the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a conference.

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