A ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals has called into question the constitutionality of some parts of the state’s sex offender registry and has led to hundreds of names being removed from that registry, according to the Baltimore Sun. The court found that adding people to the registry for sex crimes that were committed before the registry existed was a violation of their constitutional rights. Furthermore, critics have said that the registry is an unfair punishment that does nothing to increase public safety.
As WJLA recently reported, the court recently ruled that a law that retroactively added a number of offenders to the registry was unconstitutional. Similar rulings have found that laws that have attempted to expand the registry, such as by requiring offenders to register for crimes that were committed before the registry came into existence, were likewise unconstitutional.
Both the Maryland and U.S. Constitutions protect citizens from having to undergo additional sentences after they have already been sentenced and served their punishments. The court has found that the sex offender registry requirement often violated an offender’s “right to fair warning” and created an unfair situation for the offender. As a result, hundreds of names have already been removed from the registry.
Furthermore, while the sex offender registry is popular with politicians, critics say there is no evidence that it has any positive effect on public safety. Furthermore, the registry can end up stigmatizing offenders, who often find it difficult to gain employment because they are on the list.
Critics of the registry say it is based on an untrue premise that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated. By being forced to stay on a list that has no proven public safety value, the registry only makes the lives of offenders who have served their sentences more difficult while delivering only a highly debatable service to the public. The registry can, indeed, prove dangerous, as when a Baltimore woman was recently convicted of killing a sex offender in an act of vigilante justice.
Sex crimes, as the above story shows, often stir strong emotions in the public and among legislators. As such, people convicted of a sex crime can often expect to face punishments that go well beyond prison time. Being listed as a sex offender can ruin a person’s reputation and make it difficult to find employment or even a place to live.
Because of the seriousness of such crimes, anybody currently facing a sex crime accusation needs vigorous and highly qualified legal representation. An experienced criminal defense attorney will provide the help clients need who are not only fighting against these serious charges but are also trying to maintain their good reputations.
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