Thursday, May 3, 2012

No one is a fan of sex offenders, but . . .

Along with murder, voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault that results in serious bodily injury of another child, MCL 712A.19a(2)(d), as amended, effective May 1, 2012, now provides that if a parent is required to register under the sex offenders registration act, the department of human services is not required to make reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the parent. 

Critics argue that this will allow the family court to terminate a parent's parental rights to a child for no other reason than a parent being required to register under the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA).  (Past law required that there be some showing of ‘unfitness’ before parental rights can be terminated.)  Advocates counter that judges retain discretion to order DHS to make reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the parent, and the legislation was needed to receive federal funding.  Setting aside whether money should be a controlling factor,

In domestic relations cases would this allow a parent to petition to terminate the other parent’s parental rights thereby resolving issues of custody and parenting time while retaining the right to receive child support?  Even if unrelated to the circumstances leading to the SORA registration.  The Michigan Supreme Court held in In re Beck, 488 Mich 6 (2010) that even after a parent’s rights have been terminated, the obligation to support continues unless a court of competent jurisdiction modifies or terminates the obligation. Under MCL 722.3 a court has the discretion to terminate or modify a parent’s obligation to provide support, but is not compelled to do so.

In criminal cases does this then require advising a defendant that his/her plea to an offense resulting in registration under the SORA could result in a termination of his/her parental rights?  Even if unrelated to the existing charge?  The United States Supreme Court held in Lafler v Cooper, 566 US ___ (2012) that an ineffective assistance of counsel claim may be based on counsel’s failure to properly inform the defendant of the consequences of accepting or rejecting a plea offer. Counsel’s assistance must be sufficient to enable the defendant the defendant “to make an informed and voluntary choice between trial and a guilty plea.” People v Corteway, 212 Mich App 442, 446 (1995).


  1. Interesting comment considering that this is just one more latent "result" of registration. Over the past two to three decades so many laws have been amended with retroactive "consequences" one has to wonder at what point do the plea agreements become nullified due to the fact that there could clearly have been no way so many defendants were truly fully informed and entered into them knowingly. Personally I foresee a large percentage of decades old cases where defendants took a plea and lived up to their obligations petitioning the courts for relief as clearly the plea which is a contract between TWO sides is not being honored by the other. These laws have gone too far and ensnare far too many even those that are not a danger.

  2. Does this law now grant additional rights to registrants who formerly were told by the courts that mere registration was not punitive and did not grant any appeal rights etc?

    It seems to me this makes the registration much more of a punitive measure that should now create more protections for anyone on the registry to appeal their classifications and placement.

    This suddenly takes registration way beyond "mere notification" of the public into the realm of an actual punitive nature of taking a persons children from them, potentially for a very minor indiscretion committed as a youth.

    What about when both parents live together and only one was required to register? What does this do to the family?

    When registrations first started I worried "who will be next" if this is allowed to become law. ( Man committed to civil commitment for alcohol abuse under sex offender law )

    Would a DUI now possible lead to loss of your child?

    This was created by congress not to protect the public but out of pure hate. You know this if you read transcripts of hearings in Congress when this was debated in hearings. It was never based on any evidence and never took the low recidivism rate into account. Sex offenders were and remain easy targets.

    But this is not the America I grew up in...this is getting scarey and reminiscent of how the Nazi's worked in the 30's with regard to Gypsies, then Jews. Start with the people everyone loved to hate and progress until there is no one safe from "deportation" etc. Again, who is next for this "special treatment".