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SORNA Interstate Travel Prohibition Not Retroactive

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By FindLaw Staff on June 01, 2010 3:22 PM

In Carr v. US, No. 08-1301, the Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit's affirmance of defendant's conviction for failure to register as a sex offender in Indiana under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), holding that 18 U.S.C. section 2250 does not apply to sex offenders whose interstate travel occurred before SORNA's effective date.

As the Court wrote:  "Since 1994, federal law has required States, as a condition for the receipt of certain law enforcement funds, to maintain federally compliant systems for sex offender registration and community notification. In an effort to make these state schemes more comprehensive, uniform, and effective, Congress in 2006 enacted the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA or Act) as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, Pub. L. 109-248, Tit. I, 120 Stat. 590. Among its provisions, the Act established a federal criminal offense covering, inter alia, any person who (1) "is required to register under [SORNA]," (2) "travels in interstate or foreign commerce," and (3) "knowingly fails to register or update a registration." 18 U. S. C. §2250(a).  At issue in this case is whether §2250 applies to sex offenders whose interstate travel occurred prior to SORNA's effective date and, if so, whether the statute runs afoul of the Constitution's prohibition on ex post facto laws. See Art. I, §9, cl. 3. Liability under §2250, we hold, cannot be predicated on pre-SORNA travel. We therefore do not address the ex post facto question."

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