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Supreme Court: Should Out-Of-State Sex Offenders Be Added To Indiana Registry?

Noah Coffey

The Indiana Supreme Court is deciding whether sex offenders from other states should be automatically required to put their names on Indiana's offender registry.

A 2006 law declared any sex offender required to register in another state must register in Indiana if he moves here.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush questions the ramifications of the argument that Indiana shouldn’t blindly follow stricter registry requirements from other states.

“How many steps is it going to require with regard to saying, ‘Well, that really wouldn’t have been something we would’ve put in this category?'" she asks. "Do we just give respect to the fact that, whether it’s Michigan or Texas, they said, ‘You’ve got to register there,’ so, that is enough to register here?” 

Two offenders are challenging the requirement because they committed their crimes before the 2006 law took effect. They note it's illegal to punish people something which wasn't a crime when it happened.

Deputy Attorney General JT Whitehead contends the relevant date is when the offenders moved to Indiana. Since both came to the state after the law took effect, he argues they were on notice that their registry status would carry over.

“The legislature intended for the citizens of Indiana to know if someone moves here with a registration requirement, that some government, somewhere in America decided that someone was enough of an offender that they have to register,” Whitehead says.

Trial courts in Marion and Lake Counties reached opposite conclusions. The Lake County case has an added wrinkle: the defendant was 13 when he committed the crime. Indiana's registry requirement applies only to offenders 14 and over, and defense lawyer Kristin Mulholland argues he therefore shouldn't have to register.

There’s no indication of when the court will rule.