Michigan sex offender registry expands

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently signed into law a bill that expanded Michigan's sex offender registry to allow the public to view sex offenders who have been convicted of a Tier I sex offense. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who sponsored the bill, estimates it will immediately add approximately 250 convicted sex offenders to the public registry with more to follow.

Tier I offenses that now qualify include the possession of child pornography, indecent exposure to a minor and surveillance of a minor when that minor has an expectation of privacy. Previously these offenses required registration with the state and were available to police, but the public did not have access to the list.

"Any parent or grandparent has the right to know if they are living next to someone who has a record of committing sexual crimes against minors," Jones told the Holland Sentinel.

Tier III sex offenses are considered the most severe, while Tier I offenses are considered the least egregious sex crimes.

Michigan is also considering a bill that would require sex offenders on the registry to pay an annual fee of $50 to cover the operating costs of the database. Currently there is a one-time fee of $50. A number of other states require sex offenders to pay an annual fee, but critics argue the measure would be unduly burdensome on sex offenders, many of whom struggle to find jobs and housing after their convictions.

Registration basics

Under Michigan law, the conviction of Tier I offense requires annual registration for 15 years, although offenders can petition the state to be removed after 10 years. Tier II offenses, such as the accosting, enticement or solicitation of a child under age 16 to commit a sexual act, must register with the state twice a year for 25 years. A Tier III offender must register four times a year with the state for life. Examples of a Tier III offense include child kidnapping and assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct.

Michigan's Public Sex Offender Registry site includes a sex offender's name, known aliases, a photo, a written physical description, the offender's last known home address and his or her employment and educational status. The site is free and available to the public.

Contact a criminal defense attorney

Few charges are as serious or carry more stigma than the charge of a sexual offense. Registering as a sex offender can bring lifelong consequences that negatively impact a person's job prospects, housing options and social respectability. Michigan residents accused of a sex offense should immediately contact a skilled criminal defense attorney familiar with defending the rights of those accused of a sex crime.