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Ohio: Attorney General May Not Increase Sex Offender’s Registration Requirements

In April 2013, an Ohio appellate court ruled that a sex offender, who was required by virtue of a California conviction to register his address annually for ten years, could not subsequently be indicted, after moving to Ohio and being reclassified under the Adam Walsh Act, for failing to register every 90 days.

Ansuri Ameem was convicted in California of sexual assault and pandering. Classified as a sexually-oriented offender under the former Megan’s Law, Ameem was required to register his address annually for ten years.

In July 2007, after moving to Ohio, that state’s attorney general reclassified Ameem as a Tier III offender under the Adam Walsh Act. The reclassification subjected Ameem to an increased obligation to register – specifically, every 90 days for life. Ameem failed to register as required and was indicted in July 2010.

After unsuccessfully moving to have the indictment dismissed on grounds that the Ohio attorney general’s reclassification was unconstitutional, Ameem pleaded no contest to failing to register.

On appeal, the Eighth Appellate District of the Court of Appeals held that the attorney general’s reclassification of Ameem from Megan’s Law to the Adam Walsh Act was invalid. Relying on Ohio Supreme Court precedent, the appellate court found that the reclassification violated the separation of powers doctrine because it would allow the executive branch to review or overrule a decision made by the judicial branch.

The Court of Appeals further noted that Ameem’s case was not affected by the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Brunning, 2012 Ohio 5752, 983 N.E.2d 316 (Ohio 2012), which held that “despite an offender who was originally classified under Megan’s Law being wrongly reclassified under the Adam Walsh Act, the state could still maintain a prosecution for a violation of the reporting requirements as long as the alleged violation also constituted a violation of Megan’s Law.”

Accordingly, Ameem’s conviction for failure to register was reversed. See: State v. Ameem, 2013 Ohio 1555 (Ohio Ct. App. 2013); 2013 Ohio App. LEXIS 1448.

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