955 Bannock Street, Suite 200
Denver, Colorado 80204

Sex Offender Registration and Ex Post Facto Laws

An experienced attorney in the Denver, Colorado area explains how Ex Post Facto laws are inapplicable to sex offender registration requirements:  simply put, the appellate courts do not view the registration requirement as a “punishment.”
People v. Sowell

Facts: In 1995, Mr. Sowell pled to sexual assault on a child – position of trust. At the time of his plea, the statute required Mr. Sowell to register until a court granted his petition to cease registering – an indefinite term. In 2001 and 2002, the legislature changed the registration requirements from indefinite to life-long registration. The trial court, bless its heart, granted Mr. Sowell’s motion to cease all registration. The prosecution appealed.

Issue: Whether the trial court exceeded its authority to grant Mr. Sowell’s petition to cease all registration requirements?

Held: Yes.

Reasoning: Essentially, Ex Post Facto clauses do not apply to registration requirements. Mr. Sowell argued detrimental reliance upon the statutory scheme at the time of his plea, and upon a notice he received prior to a plea. The Colorado Court of Appeals found the handwritten notice insufficient to rely upon. Further, regarding the statutory scheme, the appellate court interpreted this argument as an Ex Post Facto argument – sealing Mr. Sowell’s fate. The appellate court conceded, “Ex Post Facto Clauses forbid states from enacting laws which impose additional punishment to that which was prescribed at the time an act was committed.” See also Gasper v. Gunter, 851 P.2d 912, 913 (Colo. 1993). However, previously, the Colorado Court of Appeals had found statutes requiring registration do not mete out punishment and are, therefore, not violative of (or subject to) the Ex Post Facto provisions within the Constitution. See People v. Stead, 66 P .3d 117, 120 (Colo.App.2002); People v. Tuffo, 209 P.3d 1226, 1230 (Colo.App.2009).

***Commentary contributed by Eric Sims Jr., Esq.***

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar mark October 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm

in excess the ex post facto clause in the constition would and can be used because the sex offender registery law carries and imposes criminal sanctions upon a person who fails to comply .with this clause printed in an administrative law it double imposes a sentence upon a person beyond the scope of the crime committed.

avatar Christopher November 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

> Hi, and my Name is; Christopher….
> I am writing about a very serious situation.
> In starting, I am from Chicago, ILL. But, had moved to Slidell, La. in the
> year of 1980 or 1981. While living in the state of
> Louisana I was Charged with the Crime of being in Possion of A FireArm, and
> was given 3 years probation. Now, while I was on Probation for the “Possion
> of FireArm”, I was involved with a woman who in turn was involved with Me,
> (…). She was 16 years of age, and I was 20 at the time of
> Supposed Incident. This was the Year of;1986 in Slidell, La. (Saint Tammany
> Parish). > The Situation came about after I broke off the relationship with my
> Girlfriend, and I started dating Her friend.
> A Officer that Knew me, came to my Apartment and stated that the Saint
> Tammany parish Sheriff Office wanted me to come down to there office for
> Questioning. He had also told me that [she] had went and press charges
> against me for Touching her Daughter Behind (She Said Booty). Her Daughter
> at the Time was Age 13. Name; (…).
> [She] knew that I was Dating another woman, and “yes” to say; It was a lot of
> Jealousy involved, but she (…) also knew I had a Probation for Firearm
> Hanging over my Head as well. And, I turly know that this was Her way of
> Getting back at me,…..No, this is Not a Excuse. Just that I didn’t have
> the proper Lawyer to Investigate the Situation more with determination. In
> the Year of 1987, I was Held in Covington, La. Parish Jail, on a Charge
> (1) Count, and in Violation of my Probation, Due to the FireArm
> Conviction.
> I was given A State Appointed Attorney, Who In Gods Universe, Couldn’t even
> remeber My Name!!
> The first visit from my State Appointed Attorney, was set as a Plea deal,
> from the D.A.’s Office of 5years,….do 2 years, and 6 months. I myself
> did not know anything of the Law, the system, or how it had worked. Because
> the Threat that came back from the D.A.’s Office was that If I didn’t take
> the 5 years, I would be Multi-Billed, and I wouldn’t see the light of day,
> and so on, and so on.
> I … served my time in the Department Of Corrections In
> Louisana, and was released on; June21, 1990 > After I was released, I went on with my life, Moved back to Slidell, La.
> got with another Lady Friend, Living my life peacefully, and I didn’t even
> say Hi to [her] (The Woman who Lied on me in the beginning, Back in 1986).
> The word on the streets was “She” … was saying; I got that Nigga
> Back, got his ass locked up.”
> But, still I didn’t mess with her, I kept on with my life. Went back to
> work, and Stayed with my new lady friend.
> I was Never Odered by any Judge to Register as a Sex offender, because it
> was said that it did not apply to me.
> I later moved to “Vicksburg, Mississippi”, and later on got another FireArm
> Charge. This time I fell under the Federal System, and was Sentenced in;
> Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.District Court. By Judge Bramlette. I was given
> 48 Months (4 Years).This was in the year of 2005. After serving my 4 years
> in F.C.I. Estill, S.C. I was released back to Society, with 3 years
> supervision. Now, upon release one must first check in to the Supervision
> officer. So, That is what i did. And when I went to Jackson, Ms. to see my
> Supervision Officer … , He stated to me, have I ever
> been under the Sex Offender Registery? I … stated to [him]
> “NO”. And that the Judge didn’t require that to me in Louisana,
> and the Federal Judge Didn’t apply that to me Neither. He, …
> said; Well forget what the Judge says or thinks, You …
> will have to register here in the State of Mississippi
> Now, after all these years, of working, and raising my childern, and
> enjoying our life, My Wife, Childern, and myself, They come with
> this……25 years later in my life. My wife , Children, and I are indeed
> still together, because She knows what happen. But, it sickens me, because
> I am not a Rapist, Preditor, or a Child Molestor……None of those things,
> and They have me registering, because i was told if i don’t, They would
> lock me up for 5 years, or something like that.
> I use to have a great Job, people still love me very much, and know to,
> that i was lied on,….all because She couldn’t have me, than i guess She
> felt that Nobody could, or will.
> This has been a Burden on my life, work, and situation to support my
> family.
> My Relief I seek is; Expungement from records, Ex Post Facto (My Time was
> served, and completed)
> Or a true clear cut Investigation on this matter, to get this removed
> Completely.
> I am No Sex Offender.
> I also have paper work if you need any, I can Fax, or Copy and mail to you.
> I really need your help, and guidence.
> Mailing Address: …
> Resident Address: …
> Ph.# … (Contact Number) If No answer, please leave message to
> call back.
> Or
> Text# …
> Email Address: …
> Sincerely, and True, for your time Help, and Understanding
> …

ALL I need is a legal Attorny to help me in the matter of getting this off me due to the Ex Post Facto Law, or that the Situation of this didn’t apply to me. And that this case was due to Hearsay. He Said She said…that’s the phony case of this matter. And all of a sudden now, I have to register,…out of the Blue. 26 years later. And only since I moved to the state of Mississippi. I would like to make this a civil matter,cause I really feel that my rights are being stepped on with MUDDY SHOES. And, a question to ask is why is it fair for a person to be sentenced by word of Mouth. This is happening everyday of alot of people lives. Parents set back a coach some of there childern to say such, and such. Say he touched you on your BUTT, or he tried to kiss you, or he looked at you real hard , looked like he wanted to rape you. NOW, i’m all for the law against Child molestation, Rape, or Messing with Old people, I hate them myself. But, when you have a certain amount of people trying to use others as a Crash Dummy, and screw their lives up, all because so and so, will not pay your rent, or he broke up with her to go out with another lady or woman friend, (Cause he didn’t see anything in the Ex lady friend he went with. Or lie just to get the man off the streets, cause She knows he already has a bad rap sheet or record (For other crimes, theft, and so on). With him already on probation or Parole, he has not a chance. Cause one, he can’t afford a Proper Attorney to investigate the situation at hand. Like in my case. I was young, and dumb. Didn’t know what the Sam hell was going on. Only thing i knew was I was already on probation for a possession for a Firearm, and this lady made a allegation that I felt on her daughter Behind. That’s it!!! She went down to the Slidell, La. (Saint Tammany Sheriff Office), and told Her story, and when I … tried to talk, and ask questions to the deputies, I was treated like a Mass Murderer. “Seriously”. Like they were all in it together. I was sent to Covington, La. Parish Jail, and was then appointed a State Public Defender (Who at times couldn’t even remember MY NAME!! The first time I seen her, She came with a 5 years guilty plea. (1987- Judge Green at that time , was my judge). I and others on that day of sentence was rushed into court, like a Herd OF CATTLE, and handed down sentences like we didn’t matter as Humans. There I was, guilty before any thought, or maybe a watery investigation, (Even that would have been nice to have , in a sense). There are some people Nation wide being put under this Act, and It’s Bogus to a lot. (That is a Dangerous Situation). And, a lot of so called law makers don’t see the side effect of something, until it happens,…..cause when it rains, it pours. I have worked at Cracker barrel restaurant in the pass, and had many women mistakenly or Bump me, or me them, and I said excuse me, and the same from them. I talked to a old family In-Law of Judy’s, and they said: The reason’s She will not change her years ago lie statement, is because they can get her for falsifying. Her In-laws are there in Slidell, La. … They told me this. The woman who accused me of this (Sexual Battery in 1987) is …, and Her daughter is ….
Now, the state of Mississippi Attorneys will not represent me because they say , the incident happened in Louisiana, and that’s where I need to find help. But, I find nothing but prejudice, and everyone turning up there nose. How would they feel if it was them, lied on, and Shuffled through the system, like a nobody. When in all due reality, they were treated with unjust mannerism, and actions. There are many out there who’s case is just like mine. And that is wrong. A Sex Offender???? Cause someone says; Hey, he or She touched my Butt, or felt on my leg. This is word of Mouth, …and than ride off into the sunset, with a good laugh for getting even with there mark. Of Course I’m writing about this now, because I didn’t have a clue of the things , I now know about today. When I was released from Department of Correction at W.C.I. (That name at that time), D.O.C.# … I was released June of 1990 or 1991, and my Judge order was to just stay away from the So called Victim. and that’s it. And I had 3 years probation as followed as well from my released. To report on Government Street In; Baton Rouge, La.
Years later, , I …, marry my wife who’s from Mississippi, but, also who had lived in Louisiana as well, we move to Vicksburg, Ms. (Warren County). Year 2005 i’m arrested for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm by Federal Police, and received a 4 years sentence by a federal Judge in Jackson, Ms. After being released from the system in 2009, I … had to report first to my federal Supervision officer : …, and upon reporting to Him, He stated; I see here …, that back in 1987 that you had a Sexual Battery Charge against you. Then He (Supervision officer) asked; Have you ever been required to register as a Sex offender? I …, stated NO! He (Supervision officer) than stated that well, here in mississippi you will have to register as one. (I LOOKED AT HIM LIKE ASIF HE WAS ON DRUGS or Something). I … would have never taken a plea agreement, if I wasn’t on probation for pass firearm cases. That’s how the D.A. worked me (Back in 1987 in Saint Tammany parish Courts), I had pass felons, also weapons charges in pass, so the Scare deal was: If I don’t take the 5 years, I … will be Multi-Billed!!! That’s a Shove in the corner, and without any help. I didn’t have money (Poor as a Hermit). Didn’t have proper counsel. No Investigations. Just shuffle in, and shuffle out. Just a bunch of yeah, yeah, yeah, and ummmm ok, ok, ok, ok, yeah, yeah, yeah..
Now, today since this has hit me, I need help. To have a matter concerning this brought to the table, for a civil or any way of any kind of defense. Because in situation as mine, it is wrong. My Wife and children say the same thing. They are with me, and support me in all that i say, and of what they know. Which is the truth. That Sex offender mess don’t apply some people. but, yet it’s taken all, and stir them in the same Pot. I can arrange Payments for proper counsel now, to look into this matter, either removed from my records, or me off the registery period. Mississippi Attorneys all said that they can’t do anything about it, because the situation happened in the state of Louisiana. I will have to have a Legal paper or forms from D.A.’s office or Attorneys saying removed from Registery, or in case how the Action is taken or done.
The Burden is; Some of the jobs by means to support my family, I can’t even get now. The Judge in Louisiana never acquired me to register, and my time was served. And it was done all under hearsay. In the Year of 1987 in Slidell, La. (Saint Tammany Parish). Now, 25 or 27 years later, I and my family (Wife & Children ), move to mississippi I’m told I have to register as Some Freak Sex Offender???? I would LOVE very much to know what must be done, or be aided with a proper Attorney of Counsel help. Again, I do thank you, and wish all be well, and stay well.
Sincerely, Mr. …
Ph.# … (Please leave message if I don’t answer, May be at work). …
Mailing Address: …
Resident Address: …

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