There is sooo muchhh to know about these laws today especially important when a slight slip can send you to jail, even if you are totally right, they always want the court to decide. Then in the meantime your life falls apart possibly costing you everything you have worked so hard to get up to this point.
The only time this is more important that anything else in your life is, if you intend to rely on that person's construction in court!
However, if your intent is just to gather facts so you can make a MORE INFORMED personal decision, then look FIRST to Advocates who are helping former offenders understand laws in the state where you live. Advocates get questions daily, and they see more than the average Joe, and they have access to far more information.
And, never be put off if an Advocate says, I'll have to refer you to ___ ___ as they are more up on current laws in that area. Advocates that refer you are sending you to someone they trust, and trust is a very important thing in this world. No one person is all-knowing.Your first consideration should be, is your question a State or Federal Issue? Think about what you are asking way before asking it, try to give all the facts when you first connect with a Advocate it will help them decide what is appropriate.
While it is their job to handle the registry, it is important that you realize, they need folks to register to JUSTIFY their job. Grants are given based on the number of folks registering. i.e., the work load.
Remembering that, their answer will always side with some context of "YES you have to ____" if they give you an answer at all. Often they will refer folks to a lawyer. Why? They do not want to get hauled into court and it proven they might not know what they are talking about. Its that simple.
The other thing we have heard on asking officials questions is, no two will give you the same answer. This is proof that the laws are complicated and not written for a reasonable man to interpret.
At times, YES! Consider the United States Supreme court decision in the case of Lambert -v- California 355 U.S. 225 (1957). The essence of that decision is, if there is NO KNOWLEDGE of sex offender registration law, then one cannot be held criminally responsible for violating it.
In that sense, ignorance of the law can be a defense, but your facts had better support your claim. i.e., you had better be able to prove there was no way you could have know about ____ (Whatever you are charged with).
Also, consider what this lawyer has to say on "Ignorance of the Law." While those circumstances are not related to our issue, that doesn't mean a former offender could not have some scenario to prove his/her innocence. i.e., Lambert -v- California.
Why does the State FORCE former offenders to sign a FORM, the essence of which is, so the State can prove former offenders were told about laws?
Here is a thought, is it possible (POSSIBLE) that the form FORGOT to tell you about whatever it is that you might be charged with at the time?
If so, then, Ignorance of the law MAY MAY MAY MAY be a defense, your circumstances at the time (when you are alleged to have violated ___) will determine whether or not you can use that defense.I'll leave folks with those thoughts. Remember, when charged with a crime, never give up thinking how you might be innocent.
For now, have a great day and a better tomorrow.
eAdvocate (BACK to the Top Page)
14 hours ago