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Indiana Sex Offender Registration Law Can Not Be Retroactively Applied

The Indiana Sex Offender Registration Act (ISRA) can not be applied to offenders who committed their crimes before the statute’s enactment, the Indiana Supreme Court decided on January 6, 2010.

Gary M. Hevner was convicted in 2008 of possessing child pornography after downloading illegal images to his computer. In addition to being placed on probation for two-and-a-half years, Hevner was ordered to register as a sex offender consistent with the ISRA, which took effect on July 1, 2007.

Hevner appealed the sex offender registration requirement, arguing the ISRA could not be retroactively applied to him be-cause his offense was committed before the effective date of the law. In a six-page opinion, the Indiana Supreme Court agreed.

Relying primarily on its prior ruling in Wallace v. State, 905 N.E.2d 371 (Ind. 2009) [PLN, Nov. 2009, p.14], the Court con-cluded that the statute could not be applied to Hevner. The ISRA was punitive in effect, and as such, retroactive application of the law violated the Indiana Constitution’s “prohibition on ex post facto laws,” the Court wrote.

However, the Indiana Supreme Court approved a residency restriction prohibiting Hevner from residing within 1,000 feet of a school, holding that trial judges “enjoy [] wide latitude in fashioning the terms of a defendant’s probation.” See: Hevner v. State of Indiana, 919 N.E.2d 109 (Ind. 2010).

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Related legal case

Hevner v. State of Indiana