MI – Bill would keep teen 'Romeos and Juliets' off sex offender registry

Original Article 03/24/2011 By Karen Bouffard Lansing – Legislation to keep consenting teenage lovers off Michigan's sex offender list is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder to be signed into law following final passage today in the state House. Snyder is expected to sign the law. It won't make it legal for teens to have sex with an underage partner: The age of consent would remain at 16. But the new law will prevent kids from ending up on the sex offender registry if they had consensual sex with a partner between 13 and 16 years old, provided there is no more than four years between their ages. Children would have to be at least 14 to be added to the registry. Those now on the registry for crimes they were convicted of as teens would be able to petition a judge to have their names removed. The state is required to rewrite its sex offender registry law to come into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act (Full Text, PDF), according to Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who sponsored the bills. States must have a three-tiered system, with various lengths of time on the list depending on the offense. Michigan stands to lose about $1.2 million in federal law enforcement grant money if it doesn't comply. – And how much will it cost the state to implement the law? A lot more than $1.2 million. "The typical case is a 17-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl getting on the list for 25 years and it ruins his life," Jones said. "The Romeos and Juliets now will no longer be on this list." – It ruins the life of anyone who gets on the list, not just teens. Under the new law, offenders convicted of lesser sex offenses, such as flashers and peeping Toms, would not be listed on the public registry. They would be on a list that can be viewed only by law enforcement for 15 years and have to report to the Michigan State Police once a year. – The entire registry was, as one time, offline and used by police only, before all the vigilantism (more here). First-tier offenders could petition a judge to have their name removed after 10 years. Second-tier offenders would be on the public list for 25 years and have to report twice a year. The most serious level, third-tier offenders, would be on the public list for life and have to report every three months. "We didn't make the sex offender list easier on the true predators," Jones said. "They'll have to report in every three months and give much more information so that if there is a crime police will be able to find the person much easier."

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