Retroactive Sex Offender Registration Requirements Unconstitutional, declares OK Supreme Court

The Oklahoma Supreme Court announced this week in the case of Starkey v. Oklahoma Department of Corrections that retroactive registration requirements for sex offenders is unconstitutional as a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution’s ex post facto clause. This landmark decision will affect the future of thousands of individuals who were forced to extend their registration as sex offenders.

UPDATE: As of June 28, 2013, the Department of Corrections website states the following announcement, “On June 25, 2013, the Oklahoma Supreme Court entered an Order in Starkey v. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections and Justin Jones as Director, Case No. 109,556. In accordance with the Starkey decision, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is diligently reviewing all registrants on the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry and will be removing offenders that are determined to be subject to the opinion. A Court Order will not be required for removal of offenders that are subject to the holding in the Starkey case. Please allow a reasonable time for this review as there are currently more than 7,000 offenders on the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry and each one must be reviewed individually.”

 

James Starkey is a registered sex offender in Oklahoma, who challenged the legality of the retroactive nature of the registration requirements, when applied to individuals who were placed on the registry before November 1, 2007. Mr. Starkey, like so many other registrants in Oklahoma, was forced to extend his time for registration following the Oklahoma Legislature’s 2007 amendment to Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration laws, which created a three-tiered level assessment system conducted by the Department of Corrections (DOC). These level assessments, conducted without advance notice to the registrant, placed individuals within a level one, two, or level three category to determine the length of time the individual was required to register as a sex offender. As the Supreme Court found in Starkey, these determinations were based solely on the crime on which the individual was convicted, and provided for no appeal relief. In 2009, the Legislature again amended the law so that once the level assessment committee had raised an individual’s risk assessment, that person’s risk level could never be lowered, not even by court order.

M.K. Bailey attorneys have been at the forefront of the sex offender registration battle, and successfully argued and petitioned removals off the registry for individuals living in each of the 77 counties in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision not only acknowledges the excessive tactics taken by the DOC, but also re-affirms that all Oklahomans are human beings, and should be treated as such.

In declaring unconstitutional the retroactive extension of registration for individuals convicted before November 1, 2007, the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision recognized the shame, banishment, and humiliation that extended registration periods exact on registrants. However, individuals are and will still be subjected to their current registration status until the Department of Corrections has “diligently reviewed” all 7,000 registrants and determines who is eligible for immediate removal. BUT, although the DOC will not “require” a court order for the registry, individuals who may be eligible may still petition for removal from the registry before the DOC makes its 7,000 individual determinations. Unlike many with unfounded claims, the criminal defense attorneys at M.K. Bailey Law Offices actually do have years of experience in sex offender laws and petitions for sex offender registration removal. When your freedom is at stake, do not accept second best; only qualified experience will do.

If you have any questions about the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry or the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling in Starkey v. Oklahoma Department of Corrections, call our offices at 405-607-1177 to set up a free consultation.

For a complete record of the Starkey v. Oklahoma Department of Correction decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, click here.