Ohio Violent Offender Registry
In 2016, Sierah Catherine Joughin, a junior at the University of Toledo, was kidnapped and murdered by a repeat violent offender. The Ohio legislature implemented a new law this year that would force violent offenders like the one that killed Sierah Joughin to register with the state similar to how sex offenders must register.
S.B. 67, known as Sierah’s Law was passed last year and became law on January 1st 2019. The Violent Offender Database (VOD) requires that those convicted of aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping and abduction must register every year for 10 years. The list of people that are required to register not only includes those that committed the offense but also those attempted to commit, conspired to commit, or were complicit in the commission of one of the proscribed offenses.
The law does not apply to everyone that has committed a violent offense, only to those who are convicted or plead guilty after the effective date of the law. So, for those that have already been punished for a violent crime, they will not have to register. However, those that are currently in prison for a violent offense will have to register when they are released even if the crime was committed before the law became active.
There should be no confusion as to who has to register since it is up to the judge or correctional institution where the violent offender was held to notify the offender of the registration requirement.
From a mechanical standpoint, offenders subject to Sierah’s Law will have to re-register every year for 10 years and every time the offender changes addresses with the sheriff of the county where the offender resides. Registration must be made within 10 days of being released from confinement.
Not only do those that have committed a crime in the state have to register but out of state violent offenders must also register. If you have committed aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping or abduction from another state and you move to Ohio, you will have to register in the VOD if you have lived in the state for more than three days.
A registering offender must provide their names and aliases, address, social security number, driver’s license number, the offense they were convicted for, place of employment, address of any school being attended, license plate number for every vehicle the offender operates, description of scars, tattoos, or distinguishing marks, palm prints, fingerprints, and photograph.
Failure to register carries the penalty of a fifth degree felony which can carry a sentence of between 6 to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Even after an offender has been registered for 10 years they will still have to petition to remove the obligation to register and stand for a hearing before a court who will decide if they must continue their registration. The court is allowed to consider anything it deems relevant including whether the offender has had a license suspended if the offender has satisfied child or spousal support payments, if they have paid their taxes, the employment status of the offender, and letters of reference.
Difference Between Violent Offender Database and Sex Offenders Database
The most major distinction between the VOD and the Sex Offenders Database is that the VOD is not open to the public. Only law enforcement will be able to use the database. This may seem to defeat the entire purpose to many. If the goal is prevention of violent crimes then what value is there if the public living around the violent offender is unaware?
It could be argued that by removing a semblance of anonymity the violent offender may think twice about committing a violent act. Further, if a violent crime does happen near where the registered offender lives, works, and goes to school, the police may suspect the offender first.
If you have been arrested or convicted of a violent crime you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the nuance of the law to help you. Reach out to the attorneys of Joslyn Law Firm to find out to get an evaluation of your case.