Tennessee Sex Offender Act Applies to Other State Convictions Prior to Act's Passage

Tennessee Sex Offender Act Applies to Other State Convictions Prior to Act's Passage


The Tennessee Court of Appeals held that the TN Sex Offender Act applies to people living in TN convicted of crimes from other jurisdictions prior to the Act's existence.  At issue here is the civil declaratory action taken by one such affected individual.  A John Doe plaintiff filed suit seeking to show that the act was unconstitutional.  Of particular force was the argument that of the crimes that Mr. Doe pleaded guilty to, he was not required to register as a sex offender in his home state at the time, nor would he have been required to register in TN then, as the law then did not require registration.  The law changed in 2004 and now Tennessee law requires registration not only for current sex offenders but also for people from other states now living in TN and from earlier convictions as listed in the act.


The Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of Chancellor Frank Brown, Hamilton County on essentially five major points.  They are as follows: 1. Courts have overwhelmingly viewed sexual offender registry statutes as nonpunitive. 2. Mr. Doe has failed to articulate how the registration requirements would uniquely impose disability or restraint on him, as he must to sustain an “as applied” challenge. 3. The court agrees that the Act was enacted to protect the welfare of the people of Tennessee and not to further punish the offenders who are required to register. 4.  The court concludes that there is a clear and rational non-punitive interest in the State of Tennessee’s desire to inform the public of Mr.Doe’s history of sexual offense. 5.  Here, Mr. Doe has not stated any reasons why requiring him to register would be more excessive than for any of the other thousands of sexual offenders registered in Tennessee.


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