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MI Sex Offenses – Do All Degrees of Sexual Assault Require Inclusion on the State Offender Registry?

Anytime a person is accused of criminal charges, their life changes forever. However, top criminal attorneys know that the consequences awaiting an individual accused of sexual crimes can be much greater. Besides time behind bars and steep fines, a convicted sex offender will face public humiliation because of the requirement to register with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.

As a 15 year-old registry containing about 40,000 names, the Michigan Sex Offender list is among the nation’s largest. According to state law, those convicted of sex crimes are generally required to register for 25 years or life. Although this information makes Michigan seem like a hotbed of illegal sexual activity, one must consider that many of the names on the list remain there long after their convictions for misdemeanor sex offenses have been expunged by the courts. Inconsistencies like this demonstrate that the Michigan Sex Offender Registry may be too broad, including people who have little-to-no risk of re-offending. This fact is particularly evident when comparing Michigan’s number with other states–although Pennsylvania has a 25 percent larger population then Michigan, it lists only 10,000 people on its public sex offender registry.

Many people on this registry are not going to get jobs

“We end up putting so many people on this registry who are not going to get jobs or find places to live,” explained Shelli Weisberg of the ACLU in Michigan. “It spirals them back into the criminal justice system.”

Those most at risk for this seemingly never-ending circle of crime are the youngest sex offenders–those who were placed on the registry for their involvement in so-called “Romeo and Juliet” romances, involving consenting teens. Currently, inclusion on the Michigan Sex Offender registry applies to all convicted, even teenagers. Lifelong inclusion on this list at a young age creates instant set-backs for adolescents. In addition to restricting one’s employment and housing, teenage sex offenders also face lifelong public humiliation as a result. Reducing the ability to rehabilitate and successfully integrate into society makes it that much more difficult for the person to stay out of trouble–hence fueling the spiral back into the criminal system.

Fortunately, the state Senate passed bills that would enable adolescents convicted of sex offenses with an underage partner to avoid these set-backs. Although the legal age of consent would remain at 16 years old, the bills would help Michigan state law comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act. Using a three-tiered system, the severity of one’s sexual offense would determine the punishments–those who committed more serious sexual crimes would remain on the registry, while others will have the opportunity to petition a judge to remove their names.

The legislature is not stopping there, however. Supporters of the bills hope to create a legislative committee that would examine the whole registry, as well as its cost to law enforcement agencies. Potential reforms include: allowing a judge to have more say in who is placed on the list, organize convicts by their likelihood of re-offending, and placing more low-risk offenders on a private police registry, instead of the public one. This would not only help maintain the accuracy of the Michigan Sex Offender registry, it will also help sex offenders reintegrate into society with more ease and less ridicule.

As experienced sex crime lawyers, we applaud the bills recently passed by the Senate as steps in the right direction. The consequences of a sex crime conviction will change anyone’s life forever–however, the effects that such a ruling has on a teenage offender will be even greater. For this reason, it is so important that any person accused of sexual offenses contact experienced defense attorneys in Michigan immediately. Having experienced and skilled criminal defense attorneys on your side is imperative, not only for the protection of your personal freedoms and liberties, but for your family as well.

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