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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today, re sex offender registry

In Andre Gonzalez v. State of Indiana, an 11-page, 5-0 opinion, Chief Justice Dickson writes:

After the defendant had fully served his sentence of imprisonment and probation for Child Solicitation, and during the ten-year period of his required registration as a sex offender, the statutory registration requirement was amended to require lifetime registration in certain circumstances. The defendant's offense fell within these circumstances. Upon completion of his ten-year registration requirement, the defendant unsuccessfully sought his removal from the Sex Offender Registry, claiming refuge under the Indiana Constitution's prohibition against ex post facto laws. We hold that, under the facts of this case and as applied to this defendant, the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Indiana Constitution prohibits retroactive application of the lifetime registration requirement. * * *

We apply the seven Mendoza-Martinez factors to guide our evaluation of the defendant's claim that, as applied to him, the retroactive imposition of a lifetime registration period violates the Ex Post Facto Clause. Our task is not merely to determine whether there are more punitive or non-punitive factors, but to consider them collectively to determine whether the application of the challenged statute's effects upon the defendant are so punitive in nature as to constitute a criminal penalty. See Wallace, 905 N.E.2d 378–79. The underlying conviction of the defendant for Child Solicitation was for a D felony, the lowest class of felony under Indiana's criminal code. Although the defendant was sentenced to the maximum term of three years, eighteen months were suspended to probation. Because of the nature of the offense, the then-prevailing statutes required him to register as a sex offender for ten years, which registration he completed. As we collectively weigh the punitive and non-punitive nature of the seven factors as they apply to this defendant and his circumstances, we find that to apply the 2006 amendments so as to subject this defendant to a lifetime registration requirement violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Indiana Constitution.

We reverse the denial of the defendant's petition to remove the lifetime registration requirement and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

David, Massa, Rush, JJ., concur.
Rucker, J. concurs in result.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 10, 2013 12:31 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions