OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 35

AN ACT CONCERNING THE REGISTRATION OF SEXUAL OFFENDERS.

SUMMARY:

This bill establishes a three-tiered sex offender classification system based on the severity of offenses. This system replaces the current one that categorizes offenses as (1) criminal offenses against a victim who is a minor, (2) nonviolent sexual offenses, or (3) violent sexual offenses.

The bill requires certain juveniles to register as sex offenders and broadens the crimes that subject offenders to registration to include aggravated public indecency, a new crime the bill establishes.

It lengthens the term of registration for first offenders currently categorized as nonviolent sex offenders and offenders of crimes against victims who are minors. Repeat offenders must continue to register for life.

The bill alters the registration requirements for both out-of-state registrants in Connecticut and sex offenders convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in this state. Generally, it (1) adds a pre-registration notice requirement to process for out-of-state registrants in Connecticut, (2) expands the information in-state offenders must report, (3) tightens reporting timelines, and (4) addresses reporting by transient offenders.

The bill requires (1) offenders to get a driver's license or identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), (2) DMV to mark the license or card so as to identify the owners as sex offenders, and (3) offenders to present the license or card upon a police officer's request.

It makes it a class D felony for anyone to intentionally help a person required to register as a sex offender elude police during the investigation of a registration violation.

The bill allows courts to treat sex offenders in a witness protection or relocation program differently from other offenders unless public safety dictates otherwise.

It adds to the responsibilities of agencies releasing offenders into the community and expands the Department of Public Safety's (DPS) responsibilities regarding sex offender notification.

The bill establishes a Sex Offender Registry Policy Advisory Committee, adds the attorney general to the Risk Assessment Board, and makes the DPS commissioner or his designee the board's chairperson ( 14) (see BACKGROUND).

Lastly, the bill makes conforming changes by changing references to offenses against a minor, nonviolent sexual offenses, or sexually violent offenses to tier 1, 2, and 3 offenses, respectively.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008, except for the provision establishing the Sex Offender Registry Policy Advisory Committee, which is effective July 1, 2008.

1 — REGISTRANTS

Under current law, people must register as sexual offenders if they are convicted, or acquitted by reason of insanity, of four categories of crimes or predecessor crimes. The categories are: (1) criminal offenses against a victim who is a minor, (2) nonviolent sexual offenses, (3) violent sexual offenses, and (4) felonies committed for sexual purposes. People must also register if they attempt, conspire, or solicit others to commit these crimes. Registration is also required of people convicted in another jurisdiction of a crime that is substantially similar to one that requires registration in Connecticut.

The bill repeals the law on (1) criminal offenses against a victim who is a minor, (2) nonviolent sexual offenses, and (3) violent sexual offenses, and instead establishes tiered offenses. Under the bill, Tier 1 offenses are simlar, but not identical, to the current nonviolent offenses; Tier 2 offenses are similar to criminal offenses against a victim who is a minor; and Tier 3 to violent sexual offenses. The bill eliminates the registration requirement for violators of crimes that are predecessors to nonviolent sexual offenses.

The bill adds two new crimes to Tier 1 and one new crime to Tier 2. It reclassifies as Tier 3 certain crimes currently categorized as criminal offenses against a victim who is a minor. Tables 1-3 show the current crimes under each category and those under the tiers as specified in the bill.

Table 1: Nonviolent Sexual Offenses (Tier 1)

Current Nonviolent Sexual Offenses

Tier 1 Offenses Under the Bill

Fourth-degree sexual assault, which generally involves nonviolent sexual contact with specified vulnerable victims (CGS 53a-73a)

Fourth-degree sexual assault, other than sexual contact with someone under age 15

Voyeurism committed with intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desire of the actor or another person by knowingly filming, photographing, videotaping, or otherwise recording the image of another person (CGS 53a-189a (a) (2))

Same

 

Aggravated public indecency involving a victim under age 18 ( 16 of the bill)

 

Intimate contact with the intimate parts of a child ages 13 to 15 or subjecting the victim to contact with the actor's intimate parts in a sexual and indecent manner likely to impair the child's health or morals ( 19 of the bill)

Table 2: Criminal Offenses Against a Minor (Tier 2)

Current Criminal Offenses Against a Victim who is a Minor

Tier 2 Offenses Under the Bill

Risk of injury to a minor involving contact with the intimate parts of someone under age 16 (CGS 53-21(a)(2))

Intimate contact with the intimate parts of a child under age 13 or subjecting the victim to contact with the actor's intimate parts in a sexual and indecent manner likely to impair the child's health or morals ( 18 of the bill)

First-degree sexual assault involving sexual intercourse with someone under age 13 (CGS 53a-70(a)(2))

Same

Second-degree sexual assault involving sexual intercourse with:

(a) someone age 13 to 15;

(b) someone under age 18 if the actor is the person's guardian;

(c) a student under age 18 if the offender is a school employee;

(d) someone under age 18 if the actor is a coach or instructor; and

(e) someone under age 18 if the actor is age 20 or older and stands in a position of power, authority, or supervision over the person by virtue of the actor's professional, legal, occupational, or volunteer status (CGS 53a-71)

Same

Third-degree sexual assault involving a close relative (CGS 53a-72a (a) (2))

Same

Promoting prostitution with someone under age 16 (first-degree) (CGS 53a-86(a)(2))

N/A

Promoting prostitution with someone age 16 or 17 (second-degree) (CGS 53a-87(a)(2))

N/A

Enticing someone under age 16 through interactive computer use (CGS 53a-90a)

Same

Employing or promoting a minor in an obscene performance (CGS 53a-196a, 53a-196b)

N/A

Importing or possessing child pornography (CGS 53a-196c through -196f)

Possessing, but not importing, child pornography (CGS 53a-196d through -196f)

First- or second-degree kidnapping, first- or second-degree unlawful restraint, or public indecency when the court finds that the victim is under age 18 (CGS 53a-92, 53a-92a, 53a-94, 53a-94a, 53a-95, 53a-96, and 53a-186)

Similar, excludes public indecency (CGS 53a-186) and adds second-degree sexual assault when the actor is a coach and the victim is a secondary school student receiving coaching instruction at school (CGS 53a-71 (a) (9)(A))

 

Fourth-degree sexual assault of a victim under age 18 (CGS 53a-73a (a)(1)(A))

Table 3: Sexually Violent Offenses (Tier 3)

Current Sexually Violent Offenses

Tier 3 Offenses Under the Bill

First-degree sexual assault, other than the portion covered under crimes against a minor (CGS 53a-70)

Same

First-degree aggravated sexual assault (CGS 53a-70a)

Same

Sexual assault in a spousal or cohabiting relationship (CGS 53a-70b)

Same

Second-degree sexual assault, other than the portion covered under crimes against minors (CGS 53a-71)

Same

Third-degree sexual assault, other than the portion covered under crimes against minors (CGS 53a-72a)

Same

Third-degree sexual assault with a firearm (CGS 53a-72b)

Same

First-degree kidnapping with or without a firearm if the court finds that the offense was committed with the intent of sexually violating or abusing the victim (CGS 53a-92-92a)

Same

 

Promoting prostitution with someone under age 16 (first-degree) (CGS 53a-86(a)(2))

 

Promoting prostitution with someone age 16 or 17 (second-degree) (CGS 53a-87(a)(2))

 

Employing or promoting a minor in an obscene performance (CGS 53a-196a, 53a-196b)

 

Importing child pornography (CGS 53a-196c)

10(D) — JUVENILES TRIED AS ADULTS

The bill requires any juvenile at least age 14 to register as a sex offender if he or she is convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in adult court of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, first-degree sexual assault with force, first-degree sexual assault with a victim under age 13 and at least two years younger than the offender, or first-degree sexual assault with a mentally incapacitated person.

The juvenile must register in the same way that out-of-state registrants living, working, or going to school in this state must register. Apparently, this means that they must register (1) their names, date of birth, residential address, state of registration, school or workplace, and vocation location, in writing, at least 48 hours before entering the state and (2) in compliance with the bill within three business days after starting work, school, or the vocation.

The bill allows the court to reduce the registration period to 25 years if the juvenile has (1) not been previously convicted of a felony, (2) not been convicted of another sexual offense, (3) successfully completed probation and parole, and (4) successfully completed an appropriate state-certified sexual offender treatment program (see COMMENT).

16 — NEW CRIME — AGGRAVATED PUBLIC INDECENCY

Under the bill, a person is guilty of aggravated public indecency if he or she (1) performs certain acts in any place where they could reasonably be expected to be viewed by others and (2) the acts are viewed by a person under age 18. The acts are sexual intercourse, lewd body exposure with intent to arouse or satisfy the actor's sexual desire, or lewd fondling or caressing the body of another person.

Aggravated public indecency is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison, a $ 2,000 fine, or both. It is classified as a tier 2 offense.

18 AND 19 — SEXUAL CONTACT CRIMES

Under current law, anyone who has contact with the intimate parts of a child under age 16 or subjects the child to contact with the offender's intimate parts in a sexual and indecent manner likely to impair the child's health or morals is guilty of risk of injury to a minor. The crime is a class B felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $ 15,000 fine, or both. However if the victim is under age 13, the crime carries a mandatory minimum five-year sentence.

The bill declassifies this conduct as risk of injury and instead creates two new crimes of sexual contact. One of the new crimes makes a person who engages in the conduct described above with a victim under age 13 guilty of a class A felony. A class A felony is punishable by 10 to 25 years in prison, a fine of up to $ 20,000, or both.

The other new crime makes a person who engages in the conduct described above with a victim ages 13 to 15 guilty of a class B felony, the same penalty imposed under current law.

2-4 & 6 — REGISTRATION BY IN-STATE OFFENDERS

The bill increases the initial registration periods for offenders in the categories for nonviolent sexual offenders and criminal offenses against a victim who is a minor. Offenders with prior convictions continue to have to register for life. Table 4 shows the current registration periods and those under the bill. Judges continue to have discretion in setting registration periods for felonies committed for sexual purposes.

Table 4: Duration of Registration

Current Law

The Bill

Nonviolent sexual offenses: 10 years for a first conviction; Life for multiple convictions

Tier 1: 15 years, then life

Criminal offenses against a victim who is a minor: 10 years for a first conviction; Life for multiple convictions

Tier 2: 25 years, then life

Violent sexual offenses: Life

Tier 3: Life

The bill continues to require convicted offenders or people found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to register with the DPS commissioner within three days of their release into the community. Offenders in the Department of Correction's (DOC) custody must register before release, at a time set by the commissioner. The bill also continues to require courts to tell people if a guilty or no contest plea would subject them to registration.

The bill requires offenders required to register under current law to comply with the bill's registration requirements by the third business day after October 1, 2008 (see below). However, courts may limit the registration period to 10 years, rather than the 15 years under the bill, for people convicted of a criminal offense against a minor if they have:

1. not been convicted of any offense for which imprisonment for more than one year was imposed,

2. not been convicted of another sexual offense,

3. successfully completed any probation or parole, and

4. successfully completed an appropriate, state-certified sexual offender treatment program.

The bill requires sexual assault offenders who had been required to register under CGS 54-102r, which was repealed in 1998, to comply with the bill's registration requirements by the third business day after October 1, 2008 (see COMMENT). However, people convicted, or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, of a criminal offense against a minor must maintain their registration for 10 years, rather than the 15 or 25 years under the bill.

Like current law, offenders who violate the registration requirements are guilty of a class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $ 5,000 fine, or both.

6 & 7 — SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS

Reporting Requirement

By law, a convicted offender or person found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect must register his or her name; identifying factors, including a photograph; criminal history record; and residence address, instant message address, or other similar Internet communication identifier with the DPS commissioner within three days of his or her release into the community. Additionally, sexually violent offenders must register documentation of any treatment they receive for mental abnormalities or personality disorders. Registered sex offenders must also notify the DPS commissioner, in writing and without undue delay, when they (1) change their name, address, instant message address, or other similar Internet communication identifier or (2) lose their job, are no longer enrolled in school, or leave their vocation.

Under the bill, anyone required to register as a Tier 1, 2, or 3 offender, out-of-state registrant, or felony offender for sexual purposes must provide certain information upon initial registration and maintain it by reporting changes to DPS. They must provide their:

1. name, including legal name changes, any name by which the person has been known, and nicknames;

2. pseudonyms, if any, including any designations or monikers used for self-identification in Internet communications or other postings;

3. residential address or, if incarcerated, the residential address where they will reside upon release from custody;

4. employer's name and address or, if incarcerated, the name and address of any employer upon release from custody;

5. employment, enrollment, or vocation at a youth camp, child day care center, public or private educational institution, including elementary, middle, high, regional vocational-technical, charter, secondary, trade, or professional school, institution, or institution of higher learning;

6. date of birth and a copy of their birth certificate;

7. Social Security number;

8. past or present alias names, dates of birth, or Social Security numbers, if any;

9. identifying factors such as fingerprints, palm prints, scars, marks or tattoos, photographs, and any other identifying characteristics;

10. criminal history record, including any out-of-state convictions;

11. telephone or cellular telephone number;

12. driver's license or state identification card;

13. date of conviction, including the name and address of the court and the offense triggering the registration;

14. probation or parole officer's name, office location, and telephone number;

15. travel and immigration documents, including passports, alien registration cards, and student or work visas;

16. professional licenses, if any;

17. e-mail or instant message address or other similar Internet communication identifier; and

18. license plate number and a description of any vehicles they own, operate, or use.

The bill eliminates the requirement for sexually violent offenders to register documentation of their mental health treatment.

Reporting Changes

Registrants must report changes to any of the above listed information. They must appear in person at DPS or any alternate location the department designates and report, in writing, changes, additions, or omissions to items one through five above. They must notify DPS, in writing, of changes to items six through 18; however, the bill does not impose a deadline by which offenders must do so.

Name Changes. Registrants must report name changes, including new nicknames, within three business days of the change. Since a nickname change does not require any legal documentation, it is unclear when or how a person changes a nickname and thus when the three day window for reporting it starts or ends. Under current law, registrants must report legal name changes without undue delay.

The bill eliminates a requirement for DPS to revise registration information whenever it receives notice from a court that has ordered an offender's name changed. However, the department retains the duty to develop a protocol for notifying other state agencies, the Judicial Department, and local police departments whenever a registrant changes his or her name and notifies the commissioner of the new name ( 11 (c) and (d)).

Address Changes. The bill requires registrants to report residence address changes within three business days. If the new address is out-of-state, the person must also register with an appropriate agency in that jurisdiction. “Residence” means a place where a person is living or staying, including a temporary residence or lodging. It includes a (1) home or a place where a person habitually lives such as a homeless, emergency, or other shelter or (2) structure that can be located by a street address, including a house, apartment building, motel, hotel, homeless shelter, recreational or other vehicle or vessel, regardless of the length of stay.

Registrants with no residential address must report their transient status, including the specific location in the town or city where they claim to be transient, within three business days. They must sign a statement that, as a transient, they are not residing at a residence. A registrant who becomes transient must report it as a change of address. Offenders must describe their transient location with enough detail to allow law enforcement officials to reasonably locate and verify their presence there. If the locations are out-of-state, the registrant must register with an appropriate agency in that jurisdiction. “Transient locations” means locations where a transient registrant habitually lives, eats, works, frequents, engages in leisure activities, stations himself or herself during the day or sleeps at night within a specific town or city.

Employment, Vocation, or School Changes. Registrants must report changes in their places of employment, vocation, or school, including an address change, within three business days. Registrants who are employed, carry on a vocation, or are enrolled in school in another jurisdiction must notify the DPS commissioner and register with an appropriate agency in that jurisdiction.

Other Requirements (7 (j) and (k))

When DPS asks, offenders required to register must allow their pictures to be retaken and report when and where DPS designates. The bill requires DPS to retake registrants' pictures at least annually rather than at least every five years ( 11 (c)). The offenders must keep their registration current by complying with registry requirements. Any period of incarceration or noncompliance is excluded from a registrant's registry term (see COMMENT).

7 (F) AND (G) — ADDRESS VERIFICATION

Currently, DPS verifies the reported residence of registered sex offenders by sending non-forwardable verification forms to their last known address every 90 days. Offenders must return the forms to DPS within 10 days. If they do not, DPS must notify the local law enforcement agency. That agency, in turn, must apply for an arrest warrant.

With some exceptions, the bill eliminates this address verification procedure and establishes a different one based, in part, on offenders' classifications and living situations. The nature of the exceptions is unclear.

The bill requires DPS to verify the address of sex offender registrants whose last reported address was in the state by mailing a form, by first class mail, to their last reported address. The form cannot be forwarded.

The bill requires offenders to verify their address every quarter after their initial registration date by (1) signing a statement on the form indicating that they continue to reside at their last reported address and (2) mailing the form within 10 days after the date it was originally mailed.

Verification of Presence in the State

The bill requires DPS to verify that registrants are physically present in the state by sending them a verification form that directs them to (1) take the form to a prescribed office of Judicial's Court Support Services Division within 10 days after the date the form was mailed, (2) have their picture taken, and (3) update and verify any information required under the law specifying the responsibilities of courts and other agencies in the registration process (see COMMENT).

If mail is not delivered to a registrant's address due to postal restrictions, the DPS commissioner may develop and implement procedures to verify the addresses. The bill does not define “postal restrictions” but presumably the procedures will cover address verifications when registrants are transients.

The forms must inform registrants that failing to return the form or report to the prescribed office or providing false information subjects them to imprisonment for up to five years, a $ 5,000 fine, or both. The Court Support Services Division must electronically notify DPS when an offender fails to report in person to the division's prescribed office. DPS must notify the local police department or state police troop with jurisdiction over a registrant's last reported (1) address whenever the registrant fails to return the form or (2) transient location whenever the registrant fails to appear at a support services' prescribed location. Once notified, the police department or state police troop must apply for a warrant for the registrant's arrest. The bill does not require police notification or warrant application when offenders, other than transients, fail to appear at a support services location ( 7 (i)).

In the absence of any requirement for DPS to notify the Court Support Services Division when offenders are required to appear, it is unclear how the division will know when an offender fails to appear.

Registrants must appear at the prescribed office of the Judicial Department's Court Support Services Division as follows after their initial registration date:

1. tier 1 offenders and out-of-state registrants, annually;

2. tier 2 offenders, every six months;

3. tier 3 offenders, every 90 days;

4. offenders who committed felonies for a sexual purpose, as directed by DPS; and

5. anyone required to register or who becomes a transient must, after reporting his or her transient status, appear in person between 10 and 15 days after their last reporting date and continue to do so until he or she is no longer transient (see COMMENT).

Failure to Report Changes ( 7 (c))

The bill requires DPS to notify the local police department or state police troop with “foreign jurisdiction” over a registrant's last reported address whenever the registrant fails to maintain or notify DPS of changes to registration information. Once notified, the police department or state police troop must apply for a warrant for the registrant's arrest. Violators are guilty of a class D felony (see COMMENT).

By law, local police have jurisdiction within their municipality and state police have jurisdiction throughout the state; thus, it is unclear what “foreign jurisdiction” means or if any police department or state police troop has it.

The bill provides that DPS is not required to update “such” information on any registrant whose last reported address was outside this state. The bill does not require the department to update any information; thus, it is not clear what this sentence means.

7 (D) AND (E) — DRIVER'S LICENSE

The bill requires offenders required to register to get a driver's license, renew an existing license, or get an identity card from DMV before registering and maintain it for the registration period (see COMMENT). The offender must tell the department that he or she is a sex offender, provide the department with required information, and take a current picture for use (1) on the license or card and (2) by DPS in maintaining current registration information.

DMV must mark the front of the license or card with a reference to the statute the offender violated.

Sex offenders required to register must produce their license or identification card when requested to do so by a police officer engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties. Offenders who do not have their licenses or cards must acknowledge their status as offenders. Registrants, but not offenders who fail to register, are subject to arrest if they do not comply with an officer's request or acknowledge their status. Violators are guilty of a class D felony.

5 — REGISTRATION BY OFFENDERS WITH OUT-OF-STATE CONVICTIONS

The bill changes the registration and notification requirements for sex offenders convicted or acquitted by reason of insanity in other jurisdictions. The penalty for violations is the same as under existing law: a class D felony.

Out-of-State Offenders Residing in Connecticut

Currently, people who reside in this state but are convicted or acquitted by reason of insanity in another jurisdiction of a crime that is substantially similar to one that requires registration in this state must (1) register here in the same way as offenders in this state and (2) update certain information included in the registry without undue delay.

The bill extends registration requirements, requires pre-registration notices for certain offenders, and establishes a new procedure for updating changes, including address verifications.

Registration. The bill extends the registration requirement to people adjudicated delinquent and those convicted or acquitted by reason of insanity in an Indian tribal court. It also specifies that the requirement only applies to juvenile offenders subject to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (see BACKGROUND).

The bill requires the offenders to register within three business days after residing in the state, rather than without undue delay as required under current law.

Pre-Registration Notice. The bill establishes pre-registration notice requirements for this population of offenders. They must give the DPS commissioner written notice of their name, date of birth, residential address, state of sex offender registration, and work or school location at least 48 hours before entering the state.

Non-Resident Out-of-State Registrants

Under current law, non-resident registrants working, carrying on a vocation, or attending school in Connecticut must register, without undue delay, after beginning their work, vocation, or education. They must register their names; identifying factors; criminal history record; Connecticut residential address, if any; residential address in their home jurisdiction; e-mail and instant message addresses; and other Internet identifiers. They must also register the locations they visit on a recurring basis.

The bill eliminates this registration requirement. Instead, it requires these registrants to pre-register the same information and in the same manner as out-of-state offenders living in Connecticut. And within three business days after starting work, school, or their vocation, these registrants must register with DPS and maintain the registration, in accordance with the bill's registration requirements while working, carrying on their vocation, or going to school or until released from registration requirements in their home jurisdiction. Within three business days, rather than without undue delay, they must notify the commissioner if they (1) stop working or going to school or (2) change their residential, e-mail, or instant message address or other Internet identifier.

Visiting Registrants

Currently, nonresident registrants traveling in this state on a recurring basis for fewer than five days must notify DPS of their temporary address here and a telephone number where they may be contacted.

The bill eliminates this requirement and instead requires out-of-state registrants entering and remaining in Connecticut for less than five days to notify DPS, at least 48 hours before entering the state, of:

1. their name and birth date;

2. their temporary address and locations they will visit while in the state;

3. the state or foreign country in which they are required to register;

4. the nature and length of their stay, including the date they plan to leave; and

5. a telephone number where they can be contacted.

The registration requirement appears to apply to out-of-state registrants passing through Connecticut with no intention of staying here.

Nonresident visitors for periods longer than five days must register, within three business days after the fifth day, in the same manner as out-of-state offenders living in Connecticut.

10 — REGISTRATION PROCESS FOR SEX OFFENDERS INCARCERATED OR ON PROBATION

With one exception, current law requires courts, DOC, and the Psychiatric Security Review Board to make sexual offender registration a condition of release for inmates or probationers required to register. The exception is for offenders whose prison terms have expired unconditionally (i. e. , they have served the full sentence).

If the offender is being unconditionally released, the releasing agency provides him or her with a registration package. If the offender refuses to voluntarily submit to registration at the time of release, the releasing court or agency must provide the DPS commissioner with the offender's name, date of release into the community, anticipated residence address, criminal history record, and any other relevant information.

The releasing agency also must inform offenders of their legal obligations to register with the commissioner within three days of their release, and to comply with registration requirements for 10 years or life, depending on the offense. The agency must give the offender a written summary of registration requirements and keep a record of having done so.

The bill alters the process for offenders being unconditionally released from DOC's custody and establishes a new process for offenders on probation. It appears to require these offenders to complete the registration procedure for out-of-state registrants (see COMMENT).

Unconditional Release

The bill eliminates the exception for offenders being unconditionally released and appears to require releasing agencies to also make sexual offender registration a condition of release (see COMMENT). If the offender being unconditionally released refuses to register with DOC, the department must notify DPS of the release and the offender must be immediately placed under arrest upon release for a registration violation.

Sex Offenders Released from Probation

The bill establishes a separate procedure for sex offenders being released from probation, eliminating the requirement for these offenders to be treated in the same way as inmates in the custody of DOC or the Psychiatric Security Review Board.

The bill requires that courts, prior to releasing sex offenders required to register, order them to report to DPS, in person, within three days following their release. The court must get the offender's address and complete a DPS form that includes a written summary of the offender's obligations to submit a DNA sample, if requested and register with DPS.

The court must give the offender a copy of the form, which the court must sign acknowledging that the offender's registration requirements were explained. The offender must sign the form acknowledging that he or she understands the registration requirements. If the offender refuses to sign the form or provide the information, the court must (1) order him or her to immediately register and (2) contact the DPS to complete the registration (see COMMENT). The offender must be immediately arrested for a registration violation if he or she refuses to complete the registration.

11 (B) — REGISTRATION SUSPENSION

The bill expands DPS' authority to suspend sex offender registration to include cases where the registrant is medically incapacitated. The bill does not define “medically incapacitated.

The department may already suspend registration when an offender is incarcerated, civilly committed, or living out-of-state. DPS must reinstate registrants who become medically capable just as it must reinstate those who are released from incarceration or civil commitment or return to this state to live. By law, suspension does not affect the date the registration obligation expires.

8 — HELPING OFFENDERS VIOLATE REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS

The bill makes it a class D felony for anyone to intentionally help a person required to register elude the police during the investigation of a registration violation by:

1. withholding information from, or failing to notify, the police about the registrant's failure to comply with registration requirements and, if known, his or her whereabouts;

2. harboring, attempting to harbor, or helping another person harbor or attempt to harbor, the registrant;

3. concealing, attempting to conceal, or helping another person conceal or attempt to conceal, the registrant;

4. knowingly providing false information about the registrant;

5. obstructing or hindering the police investigating or enforcing the violation; or

6. falsely representing the registrant by signing address verification forms or other official registration documents.

To be subject to the penalty, the person has to have a reason for believing the person required to register is in violation of registration requirements. However, the person could be convicted of the crime only if he or she engaged in the conduct described above with respect to registrants; not people who are required to register but fail to do so.

9 — DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION

By law, a person may be required to register but have dissemination of registration information limited to law enforcement officials if a court finds that public dissemination is not required for public safety. The court may grant this restriction for offenders who commit second-degree sexual assault in a spousal or cohabiting relationship. Similarly, if a court finds that public dissemination is not required for public safety, it may restrict registry dissemination for offenders who commit offenses against a minor, nonviolent sexual offenses, or sexually violent offenses, where the victim was a relative of the offender.

The bill also permits courts to (1) order DPS to limit the dissemination of registration information to law enforcement officials or (2) exempt from registration sex offenders otherwise required to register if the registrant or person required to register, as applicable, is in a witness protection or relocation program. The court must find that public dissemination or registration, as applicable, is not required for public safety and that publication of the registration information would likely jeopardize the protected person's safety.

Just as under existing law, the court must remove the restriction on the dissemination or exemption from registration if it finds that public safety or a change in circumstances dictate it. The court must direct DPS to execute and secure the order and refrain from any further dissemination of covered information unless ordered by the court. The record of the court order and its activity on the order are sealed from the public.

11 — INFORMATION SHARING

Upon receipt of offender registration information, the law requires DPS to enter it into the registry and notify the local police department or state police barracks that has jurisdiction over the area where the registrant resides or plans to reside. If a registrant is a student or works at a trade or professional school or college in this state, DPS must notify law enforcement with jurisdiction over the school's location. DPS also notifies appropriate agencies in other states when notified that a Connecticut registrant has moved there. It also provides all registration and conviction data, photographs, and fingerprints to the FBI for inclusion in its national sex offender registry.

The bill expands the notification requirement to include law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over any location where an offender (1) works or attends school, rather than just a trade or professional school or college or (2) plans to work.

The bill requires the local police department or state police troop to develop (1) policies and procedures to verify the accuracy of the information registrants provide and (2) uniform procedures for investigating registrants' continued compliance with registration requirements, including any registration violations. DPS must develop and maintain software applications that allow local jurisdictions to effectively and efficiently track and manage “local sexual offender registry programs. ” The sex offender registry is a state administered central record system. The bill does not define “local sexual offender registry programs; ” thus, it is unclear what these are or the authority for them.

12 — Confidential Information

By law, state agencies, the Judicial Department, state police troops, and local police departments cannot disclose the identity of any registrant's crime victim or treatment information, except to government agencies for bona fide law enforcement or security purposes.

The bill expands the prohibition to include a registrant's Social Security or telephone number, e-mail or instant message address, or other similar Internet communication identifier.

15 — SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY POLICY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

The bill establishes an 18-member Sex Offender Registry Policy Advisory Committee. By February 1, 2009, the committee must submit a report to the Judiciary Committee setting forth its (1) findings and recommendations on implementing the bill's provisions and (2) recommendations to improve the method and content of registry information provided to the public.

The committee consists of:

1. correction, mental health and addiction services, and public safety commissioners,

2. chief state's attorney;

3. chief public defender;

4. chairperson of the Board of Pardons and Paroles;

5. Court Support Services Division's executive director;

6. chairpersons and ranking members of the Judiciary and Public Safety committees or their designees; and

7. three gubernatorial appointees.

One each of the governor's appointees must be a (1) victim advocate with experience working with sexual assault victims and sexual offenders, (2) forensic psychiatrist with experience in the treatment of sexual offenders, and (3) person trained in the identification, assessment and treatment of sexual offenders. The DPS commissioner, or a designee, serves as chairperson of the board.

BACKGROUND

Adam Walsh Act

This act took effect on July 27, 2006. It requires each jurisdiction to maintain a sex offender registry that conforms to its provisions. Among other things, the act divides sex offenders into three tiers and requires different registry periods for each tier.

Tier III sex offenders are convicted of an offense that is punishable by more than one year in prison and:

1. is comparable or more severe than one of the following federal crimes or conspiracy or attempt to commit one of them: aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual contact against a minor under age 13;

2. involves kidnapping a minor, unless the actor is a parent or guardian; or

3. occurs after the offender became a Tier II sex offender.

A Tier II sex offender is someone convicted of an offense punishable by more than one year in prison that:

1. is committed against a minor and is comparable or more severe than one of the following federal crimes or attempt or conspiracy to commit one of them: sex trafficking, coercion and enticement, transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, or abusive sexual contact;

2. involves using a minor in a sexual performance, soliciting a minor for prostitution, or producing or distributing child pornography; or

3. occurs after the offender became a Tier I sex offender.

A Tier I sex offender is someone convicted of a sex offense not included in the other tiers. The act defines a sex offense as (1) a crime involving a sexual act or sexual contact with another, (2) specified crimes against minors, (3) specified federal crimes and military crimes, and (4) attempt or conspiracy to commit one of them. Certain foreign crimes and certain crimes involving consensual sexual conduct are excluded but certain juvenile adjudications are included.

Risk Assessment Board

The legislature established the board in 2006 to develop a scale using various factors to determine a sex offender's likelihood of reoffending. In 2007, it required the board to make recommendations on whether a person found guilty of an offense in another state that would require registration in this state must register in Connecticut if final judgment was never entered in the other state.

The board consists of a forensic psychiatrist experienced in sex offender treatment appointed by the governor; a person trained in the identification, assessment, and treatment of sex offenders appointed by the governor; and the following state officials or their designees:

1. correction, mental health and addiction services, and public safety commissioners;

2. chief state's attorney;

3. chief public defender;

4. chairperson of the Board of Pardons and Paroles;

5. victim advocate;

6. executive director of the Judicial Department's Court Support Services Division; and

7. chairpersons and ranking members of the Judiciary and Public Safety committees.

Related Bill

sHB 5033 prohibits courts from granting sex offenders' requests for name changes unless the offenders, among other things, notified DPS before applying for the change.

COMMENTS

Juvenile Offenders

The bill ( 10 (d)) allows the court to reduce the registration period to 25 years, which suggests that juveniles must maintain their registration for more than 25 years. However, the bill does not specify the period of registration. It requires juveniles to register under the statute that covers out-of-state registrants. Out-of-state registrants must maintain their registration until they are released from registration in the other jurisdiction.

People Required to Register Under 54-102r

CGS 54-102r required sexual assault offenders to register for 10 years. Since the last possible registrants under that law will complete their registration by the bill's October 1, 2008 effective date, the legal effect of 4 (b) is unclear.

Calculating Registration Terms

Under 7 (k) any period of incarceration or noncompliance is excluded from a registrant's registry term. However, by law, unchanged by the bill, suspension due to incarceration does not affect the date an offender's registration obligation expires (see 11 (b)).

Information Verification

7 (g) requires sex offenders who are released from custody to verify information required under CGS 54-256. That section of the statutes instructs agencies and courts on registration processes they must follow before releasing offenders into the community.

Address Verification

The schedule for sex offenders to verify their addresses in person by reporting to the Judicial Department's Court Support Services Division is contradictory. 7 (h) (1) – (3) requires them to appear based on their classification but 7 (h) (5) requires them to all report at least every 15 days.

Penalty for Failing to Register Information in 7 (b)

The bill makes offenders guilty of a class D felony if they do not maintain the information required under 7 (b). However, unlike changes to other information such as name and address that must be reported within three business days, the bill does not specify a deadline by which offenders must report changes to this information.

Registration as a Condition of Release

By requiring offenders to complete the registration process the DPS commissioner establishes under CGS 54-253, the bill ( 10) appears to require offenders who are convicted or acquitted by reasons of insanity in Connecticut to register in the same manner as in-state and out-of-state offenders.

Driver's License Requirement

7 (d) requires sex offenders to get a driver's license, renew an existing license, or get an identity card from DMV before registering. However, 2 and 3 require offenders in the DOC commissioner's custody to register before they are released. Since incarcerated inmates would be unable to comply with the licensure or identification requirement, it is unclear how they would be able to register.

Unconditionally Released Offenders

10 requires agencies to place conditions on sex offenders being “unconditionally” released into the community. Since inmates released unconditionally have served their full sentence, it is unclear how a releasing agency can place conditions on them.

Registration Violation

Under 2-4, sex offenders required to register have three days following their release to register with DPS. However, under 10, sex offenders being released from probation must be immediately arrested if they fail to register after a court orders immediate registration.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Judiciary Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

43

Nay

0

(03/24/2008)