Monday, April 11, 2011

Topic: Vacation and Other Time Away from Home

No question is asked more than, what do I do if I want to go on vacation?

Some folks ask why we do not summarize requirements, well our answer is, when we do there are those who want a more complete answer and ask for authorities, so we opt for explanations below. A closer read of them will reveal we cover some unique circumstances and have provided helpful hints that might save someone a jail sentence. Finally, lawyers should be aware of these hints and folks should consult them when the need arises.

Here are several helpful pointers.

Persons on Parole, Probation, Supervised Release or
Other State/Federal Supervision:

It would be wise to FIRST Plan your vacation listing everywhere you wish to go, then before going, get your Supervising Agent's written approval, without that you will likely be arrested!

OnceFallen's Advice:
For Vacation Travel and Other Short Trips

OnceFallen has done quite a bit of traveling, and here is his advice. After reading that please continue with what is below, every tip is important to you and may keep you out of jail for a mistep.

What to Expect
When Registering Elsewhere:

Below we mention registering somewhere other than your local place of registration, accordingly here is what you should expect and do:
1) You will have to fill out their forms (Make certain you get a copy of them)(You also may need proof of your primary residence);

2) Generally there are registration fees (Make certain you get a receipt that you have paid) (One Louisiana town is trying to get $600.00, yes, absurd);

3) You may have to provide DNA even though yours is already in CODIS. And, they may have you pay a fee to process your DNA (We have seen fees upwards of $250.00);

4) Make certain you get a copy of their rules and laws, so that you can read them yourself. Too often registering agents skim over what is required of registrants and you could wind up in jail;

5) When you sign their forms place (TEMPORARY RESIDENCE) directly next to your signature, this way there is no question in the future. Also find out EXACTLY what you must do, and when, then what to do when you leave that jurisdiction for your next vacation spot. Registration laws often require PRIOR NOTICE before someone changes their address. i.e., leaves that vacation spot (This can be a problem for vacationers who do not stay in one place for long).

6) This may not apply to everyone, but you should ask "What must I do to remove my name from your registry, when I no longer have to register?" To understand why this is important please read "Topic: No Longer Required to Register?" -AND- "Topic: Removed from the Registry?."

Am I expected to know the laws everywhere?

The simple answer to this is, NO! The United States Supreme court has decided this question years ago in the case of Lambert -v- California 355 U.S. 225 (1957). The essence of that decision is, if there is NO KNOWLEDGE of the law, then one cannot be held criminally responsible for violating it.

However, with that said, that case IS NOT the ANSWER to every circumstance, so do not misuse that case. Prosecutors will try to prove you had knowledge of LOCAL LAWS since you likely registered with the state (they will try anything to get a conviction, never trust them.)

Consider, on State Registration forms there is wording that goes something like this, "If you move to another state, you must register when you get there." Those words or anything similar are a Catch-22 phrase currently being used by courts to require the registrant to register in any State or U.S. Territory they travel to.

State and Federal courts are considering this sufficient notice to require registration in the new State -or- U.S. Territory!

Accordingly you are required to register when you get to another State or U.S. Territory, but you need to find out BEFORE getting there how long you have until you are required to register. Some places only give you 24 hours, and some have cutoff dates where you do not have to register if conviction is before that date (Florida for one). A phone call to the folks who run that registry will let you know. CLICK for access to every state registry and their phone numbers.

What About Local Registries (County, City and the Like):

Here is where most folks simply ignore them and enjoy their vacation, as they are completely separate from the State registry, and often have all sorts of collateral attachments to them. Lets face it, do you want to spend all your vacation time looking for registration laws and worrying about them? No! So if you cover the State Registration laws, then handle these, if a question arises, you should be safe.

If a question arises thats where Lambert v California comes into play. Consider, local registries rarely advertise in a way that a reasonable person visiting the area might learn of them, and that is exactly what is covered by Lambert v California. So -assuming you have ignored local registry laws- and you are stopped or questioned, explain there was no way you could have known about them, and tell the policeman you will go and take care of it immediately; then do so.

I have always suggested that every registrant carry on their person, a copy of Lambert -v- California for just such a circumstance. However, never misuse that case or lie to the police, if you are in the wrong you may very well wind up in jail for a long period of time.
Should anyone find a special circumstance that falls outside of the Lambert exception, and we have not mentioned it, please let us know to help others. send a e-mail to and explain what you ran into.

Lambert v California (Helpful in Other Places):

The key thing about registration laws and laws that try to exclude registrants from places is, that you must be given some notification of them, BEFORE being held to have violated them; Due Process. That is precisely what Lambert covers.

Scenario: You go to a park (or other place where minors MIGHT gather), and they have a policy that excludes sex offender registrants, but that policy is not posted anywhere at the entrance. Then someone calls the police because they recognize you as being a Former Sex Offender, and the police want to arrest you. Bingo, explain to the police that there was no way you could have known about that policy, and you are willing to leave. Then if they still want to arrest you, whip out your copy of Lambert and show them what the U.S. Supreme court says about such circumstances. That should be sufficient for them to allow you to leave without being arrested. And, if you are arrested, then explain same to the court (However, IF YOU PLEAD GUILTY, then you cannot use Lambert).
So Lambert should only be used when there is no way you could have known about a rule or policy of the place. Another possible example is, Amusement Parks, Public Pools, Zoos, and even Beaches. Never abuse this case because it could hurt others who need it as well.

The Adam Walsh Act and Civil Commitment (Trickery beyond belief):

There is no doubt this is the worst piece of harmful legislation to ever come out of Congress. But here we need to address one small part of it which pertains to crossing state lines and not registering in the new state (Note: This applies only to State Registration, and not local registries [County, City, and the like]).

§ 2250. Failure to register
(a) IN GENERAL.—Whoever—
(1) is required to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act;
(A) is a sex offender as defined for the purposes of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act by reason of a conviction under Federal law (including the Uniform Code of Military Justice), the law of the District of Columbia, Indian Tribal law, or the law of any territory or possession of the United States; or
(B) travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or enters or leaves, or resides in, Indian country; and
(3) knowingly fails to register or update a registration as required
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

(b) AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE.—In a prosecution for a violation under subsection (a), it is an affirmative defense that—
(1) uncontrollable circumstances prevented the individual from complying;
(2) the individual did not contribute to the creation of such circumstances in reckless disregard of the requirement to comply; and
(3) the individual complied as soon as such circumstances ceased to exist.
One obvious question arises when folks are traveling through multiple states say, on a trip from an east coast state to a west coast state. Unfortunately we have no GOOD answer to this, and so far, no one has reported a problem.

However, given the built-in Affirmative Defenses -number 3- seems to cover this circumstance, assuming no extended stops between start and finish of the trip, and you take care of it when made aware.

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

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