Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Topic: Home Address Checks - Verifications

Rule of Thumb with Respect to Police

With that said:

Recently we found reports of what police are doing in a few places and saved them. Yes, we would consider these harassment, but how to fight it is a question yet to be answered, any LEGAL thoughts would be helpful:
Sex Offender Murdered b/c of Home Address Checks
Recently identified Fresno sex offender murdered (4-3-2014)

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Days after a Fresno man was identified as a sex offender, he turned up dead. Now, two people will stand trial for his murder.
Lawrence Ballesteros was stabbed to death in Sept. 2012, just days after a sex offender sweep. An autopsy showed Ballesteros was stabbed 58 times before his body was dumped near Chandler Airport.

Investigators believe the attack stems from the kind of anger you'd expect from a parent who just found out a pedophile had become a family friend. When U.S. Marshals and local police went door-to-door tracking sex offenders, Lawrence Ballesteros was right where they expected him. The sting apparently blew his cover, though, and made him a target.

Police Harassment of Local Registrants
Putnam County hires 'Sex Offender Compliance' specialist (2-24-17)(notice car)
Putnam County announced on Friday that they had reorganized resources and created a position known as a “Sex Offender Compliance Specialist.”

The Florida Sex Offender Registry said that there are currently 305 sex offenders in Putnam County.

The county says the specialist “will work in conjunction with the current offender compliance program as a means of providing critical intelligence for investigators by assessing risk-related changes in offender’s behavior.”

“We refuse to allow Putnam County to become a safe haven for sexual offenders and predators,” said Gator Deloach, who was elected Sheriff in Nov. 2016. “While we can’t control in which county they choose to live, we can certainly make Putnam County as inhospitable as possible for them.”

Police Harassment of Local Registrants
Bay County Sheriff’s Office is making neighbors aware of sexual offenders who move nearby (9-9-2011)

Panama City Beach - Sheriff’s deputies and police officers routinely verify the addresses of registered sex offenders and sexual predators to make sure they're following local and state laws, but the Bay County Sheriff's Office is taking the process a step further.

Not only does the sheriff's office check on the counties 341 registered sex offenders and 17 sexual predators, they also let their neighbors know who's living next door. Every Thursday Malcolm Fowler gets in Bay County's only marked Sexual Offender Enforcement patrol car, checks his address list for sexual offenders and predators, then he visits their neighbors.

"I go door to door. Some people come out, some people don't. I usually leave it on their door and if I see them outside I’ll explain what I’m doing and their usually pretty thankful," said Malcolm Fowler.

Fowler started as a volunteer. He's now a part time sheriff's office employee "It frees them up to do other jobs and I figure that I’m saving them man hours where they can go out and participate in what they are suppose to be doing," said Fowler.

Police Harassment of Local Registrants
San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputies ramp up sex offender registration check (3-22-2014)

Drawing attention: Publicized process attracts neighbors' attention during routine checks

AZTEC — San Juan County Sheriff's Office Deputy Robert Tallman slowly drove a truck — one with a sign that read "Sex Offender Registration Unit" on the tailgate and the side door — through a Crouch Mesa neighborhood on Wednesday.

Two deputies followed in cars with their police lights flashing.

The purpose of the visit was to verify sex offender registration information. The sign and the flashing lights are meant to draw attention to the convicted sex offenders and warn neighbors, Sheriff Ken Christesen said.

Christesen said he has ramped up the sex offender registration program since taking office in 2011. He said he has increased the number of registration checks, improved the program's technology and publicized the process.

"I'm not going to ever be soft on sex offenders," Christesen said. "I want to make sure everybody knows where they live. If the sex offenders don't like it, maybe they should move to a different state."

Making sex offenders' addresses readily available serves the public because sex offenders have a high rate of recidivism, Christesen said. If a child goes missing, police can quickly check people who live near the area and have committed a sex crime against a child, he said. ..Continued..

With that said: First, the Federal law behind home address checks, then move on to state laws. Folks must read carefully!

"Skip Explanation, Jump to: When They Knock."
On Parole, Probation or other State / Federal Supervision
Folks under supervision, everything that follows is pretty much FYI (For Your Information) because whatever your Supervising Agent tells you to do, you must do without question. Courts have upheld their authority time and time again. The only exception we have ever seen, is when some constitutional right is severely impinged. Wish we could tell you more, but thats life under supervision.

The Adam Walsh Act (AWA/SORNA):
Home Address Checks

There is NOTHING written into the Adam Walsh Act (AWA/SORNA) that explains "Home Address Checks." Whether or not it is a logical thing for police to do, there is nothing in FEDERAL law discussing or explaining these checks.

However, with that said, Congress approved Grants for States to TEMPORARILY perform "Home Address Checks" under the section titled "42 USC § 16988 - Jessica Lunsford Address Verification Grant Program." So, by virtue of the TEMPORARY Grant program the checks are done. see:
Accordingly, the USAG has ordered local officials to perform Home Address Checks on some or all registrants of state sex offender registries, and that requirement is in law and the Final Federal Guidelines for State lawmakers:

"42 USC 16988(b) Grants authorized Under the Program, the Attorney General is authorized to award grants to State, [1] local governments, and Indian tribal governments to assist in carrying out programs requiring an appropriate official to verify, at appropriate intervals, the RESIDENCE of all or some registered sex offenders."

Note: The Grant program is not for US Marshals, grants are for state police and local law enforcement; state jurisdiction.

However, those GRANTS for jurisdictions to perform home address checks was a TEMPORARY Grant program which expired in 2009. see 42 USC 16988(e) and (e)(2). Congress also ordered the US Attorney General to report back to Congress -no later than 4-1-2009- whether home address checks were effective in reducing sex offenses as compared to other methods, and to recommend, if worthwhile, continued funding of address checks. see 42 USC 16988(e)(2).

Note: To our knowledge this has not been done; checked in August 2011 and April 2012. And again in June of 2013. However, given that states are applying for these grants and performing home address checks, one might say, federal law has been accepted and is in practice.
So are address checks legal? States are clearly paying for them after 2009 as Congress has not approved any extension of these dates ( See 111th Congress bills: HR-1422 and HR-1149) So, until someone makes it a issue in a court action, and wins, home address checks will continue without concern for their legality.

State Registration Laws:
Home Address Checks

All states have received the AWA/SORNA Final Guidelines from the USAG, through the SMART Office. Since they are Guidelines, states do not have to follow them (Guidelines have no force of law, Rules do), states can do whatever they want according to their state constitution.
However, Congress also added a little provision within AWA which effectively says, if you (the State) do not SUBSTANTIALLY FOLLOW the Guidelines, then the State will be docked 10% of FEDERAL GRANT money usually given to you (a state) annually; a legalized form of extortion. This is done to force states to follow the guidelines.
Now remember the requirement to perform Home Address checks are tucked into the Federal Guidelines for State Lawmakers, so states are very likely to permit them, even if a state legislature has not enacted them (codified them) into state law..

State Registration Laws:
Local/State Police Policy

Now, here is something a FSO has done, when the local police came to the FSO's home, the FSO asked for the authority that permits local police to perform home address checks. Obviously the police ignored the request, but the FSO demanded authority, and the police ultimately had to provide same (it took a complaint to their superiors). What the police had was a "Local Policy" which outlined how the police were to perform address checks.

Why is having a copy of the Policy, good? Here is something most folks miss, a "Home Address Check" is exactly that, and that means when they come to the door they should not do anything else, and should not ask for anything but verification of the home address, like to see a driver's license or something else to prove that FSO resides at that address; utility bill etc..

Accordingly, if the police begin asking questions that have nothing to do with the checking whether the registrant lives at that address, the FSO should begin to wonder why? Because such questions go beyond verifying the home address (the purpose of the Policy). If they are asking other questions, FSOs -politely- should CONSIDER not answering them without checking with a lawyer.

Next, on to other matters:

Local/State Police Knock on Door:
Should you allow them into your home?

First, the majority of police who perform registry address checks, are fine folks and just want to do what they are required to do, then leave. But there are some who want to make life as difficult as possible, sort of acting in a vigilante way while being sanctioned by the law. The exceptions noted below pertain to protecting oneself, and your family, from that group of police. Generally you will know who they are when you answer the door. Never forget you can ask for a supervisor if the police give you trouble, whether or not they will call one is another thing, still ask.
Note: Folks need to recognize that when a policeman has his/her uniform on they are supposed to be tuned in to any kind of criminal activity no matter what their purpose is at any given moment. They view anything they see as potential evidence to support a charge if there is to be one.
With that said, do you let them into your home?

The best answer is, NO! You step outside your door and close it behind you, any discussion is outside and they cannot see anything inside of your home. You just do not know how they will view things inside your home, and better to be safe than sorry on that point.

Notice this comment by police:
In some cases, neighbors can help identify the sex offender. At one home, the offender's spouse provided a recent bill and documents proving residency.

Some people come out willingly and allow officers inside to view proper documents proving they still live there.

Throughout this operation, investigators said for the most part people have been cooperative. But, it also sheds light on those who are not where they're supposed to be. (Sex-offender checks show some missing 8-7-12 New Mexico)
As to questioning of neighbors, who may not want the registrant to live there in the first place, the registrant has no idea what a neighbor will say, esp. to damage the registrant. But registrants are left to the mercy of chance when this happens. What does one do?

Local/State Police Knock on Door:
Do you answer every questions asked?

Now to their questions, do they pertain to Checking your address (residency)? Answer them without question, and they will likely want something to prove you live at that address (Driver's license, Utility bill etc.). But, notice this case:
In California is this case "Long Beach may settle sex offender's legal claim (5-3-2011)

The essence of the case is this: Police went to the registrant's home and asked for "proof (like a utility bill) that he lived there," he refused and was arrested for obstruction of justice. He sued.

The Judge ruled, registrants are not notified that they must do this nor that if they fail to do so they are subject to arrest.

This is further proof that sex offender laws MUST BE WRITTEN so that one can understand them and know when they can be punished for not following them. This case opens a whole world of questions about "Home Address Checks" and some other laws as well. But, in California they are introducing a bill to FORCE a registrant to provide such proof, and it will likely be made law.
Learning what is permitted where you live is important, as sometimes police will try to verify everything that is in the records in the police registry, and that should not be done, FSO's should explain the law requires me (the FSO) to do that when I go in every ___ (quarter, semi-annual, annual, etc.).

Its too easy to say something that is NOT EXACTLY as it is in the registry records, especially when address checks are done in the early hours of the morning or late at night, often waking folks up. Not a good time to try to remember things.

But, if they go beyond checking your address then you have to make some decisions:
CAUTION: And most importantly, if you do say something different than is in the registry, that difference can be construed to mean, you lied either beforehand or at the home address check, and then be arrested and have to deal with all that follows. This does happens! You do not need this grief; answer nothing but to verify your home address.
A proper response might be, "Officer I just verified my information according to the law when I went in on ____, please refer to that. Thank you." Or anything similar, this prevents you from making a simple mistake and then suffer the consequences, usually severe.

At that point they should be satisfied and leave. You might want to ask for a copy of their "Address Check Verification Form" which proves they were there, and you were considered in compliance. Some jurisdictions have these and if you get a copy, add that to your documentation files.

Always try to make that interaction as pleasant as possible, as hard as that may be, this way you don't get tagged as a troublemaker and later harassed legally.

U.S. Marshals Knock on Door:
Purpose Address Check

Now we have a problem because U.S. Marshals are not authorized to perform State home address checks, except for someone that has a federal offense, but are authorized to go after ANY SORNA violator once they violate the law, state or federal.

In this article "Authorities checking on sex offenders in Clay County" it seems the Marshals are in violation of the law. But in this article "U.S. Marshals Capture Sex Offender In Guatemala " Marshals would be in compliance with the law.

See the following from the Adam Walsh Act, which no one has questioned yet:


(a) IN GENERAL.—The Attorney General shall use the resources of Federal law enforcement, including the United States Marshals Service, to assist jurisdictions in locating and apprehending sex offenders who violate sex offender registration requirements. For the purposes of section 566(e)(1)(B) of title 28, United States Code, a sex offender who violates a sex offender registration requirement shall be deemed a fugitive.

(b) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2007 through 2009 to implement this section.
This section was amended in 112th Congress, by HR-3796, extending years to 2013-2017 at $46,200,000.00 per year. (There were no appropriations for 2010-2012).
The law does not permit them to perform address checks, but as we have seen they are joining forces with local police in performing address checks; clearly in violation of federal law.

At this point it appears they are ABOVE the law and doing what is not permitted, and there is no system of checks and balances to stop these violations. In addition, this has got to be wasting taxpayer funds on a large scale at a time when taxpayers can least afford such waste.

Other than pointing this out, there isn't much more one can say, they are in control and the little guy has no say, until someone like the ACLU gets involved, this is the way it will be.

What is meant by:
"a sex offender who violates a sex offender registration requirement"

Now we are going to make most folks sick, but violations can be as simple as forgetting to sign a registration form, or, inconsistencies in addresses (Spelling errors). Is it any wonder why this country is going broke?

Multi Jurisdictional Task Force: Address Checks

First take a look at "Sex Offenders Focus of Santa Clara Sweep where -in relevant part it says-:

It was the first arrest during the sweep by a special task force, which is comprised of members of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, Santa Clara Police, U.S. Marshals, along with probation and parole agents.

Agents said tight funding makes operations of this size only possible a few times a year. Agents said it's critical to public safety even if most of the offenders they check aren't in violation.
Is there any way to tell which group of law enforcement is actually doing the address checks? No, but assuming it is NOT the Marshals, then they are sitting on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs, until someone is found in violation of registration laws.

Only then do they have jurisdiction according to AWA (Federal law), society is being crushed financially by this wanton misuse of taxpayer money. Then, if the Marshals perform the arrests of violators, those registrants end up in Federal court, when state courts could easily have handled the case.

Sadly, cases that are prosecuted in federal court usually end with a sentence to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where that person may be subjected to civil commitment detention (possibly for years before the hearing) and a hearing, and may be held for the rest of their life, in civil commitment.

Note: There are two circumstances that can occur which may subject a registrant to civil commitment: A) If they cross state lines and fail to register; -AND- B) whenever the U.S. Marshals perform an arrest, and the case is prosecuted in federal court, often this circumstance is the result of a multijurisdictional task force, as described above.

Well, there it is, all we can think of to keep folks in the know, its always best that everyone has a full knowledge of possible outcomes, and here we have tried to cover that.

Finally, if anyone has anything more to add to this please e-mail and explain what it is, we will phase it in.

For now, have a great day and a better tomorrow.
eAdvocate (BACK to the Top Page)

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