Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Travel: When State Law Conflicts with SORNA

International Travel:
State Registration Forms:

Remember the forms you signed when you registered? Hopefully you kept -your copy- in a safe place, because now that you want to travel to another country, you are going to need those forms.

OK, what do they say with respect to these issues:
1) Passports;
2) Notification of International Travel.
Whatever the form says, follow the instructions to the letter.

Notifying (Who: see your form) of your intent to travel internationally:
Now, since we know of no state that provides a written receipt when you notify them of your intentions regarding International Travel, it might be wise to write the agency a letter, sending it certified, or take it in and try to get them to stamp or sign it, to show that you have done what is required of you.

Michigan uses two sex offender registration forms: DD-4 and DD-4A, you can search for them online. The following comes from their DD-4A form.

Now on to other matters.

International Travel:
When State Law Conflicts with SORNA:

Here we are ONLY addressing conflicts which pertain to International Travel. There are many many other AWA conflicts -on different issues- which we ARE NOT addressing, see your lawyer to iron out any that may affect you. Now, because some states are -in compliance with SORNA-, and others -not in compliance- we address these separately below. There are good reasons. See below.

We began this research because of a Michigan case where the fellow was arrested at the airport when he and his wife went on Anniversary Vacation Cruise to another country. See case HERE and now another case HERE. What happened to first fellow simply got us thinking, so here goes.

States in Compliance with SORNA:

Now what we found pertains to Michigan, and other states -in compliance- may or may not be worded like Michigan's law. Also relevant is the form registrant's sign when they register with their state (Two specific issues: Passports and the 21 day notification).

MICHIGAN REG. FORM DD-4A (What does your state form say?):
#4) Upon registering as a sex offender, I am required by law to provide the following information:
(k). My passport and all other immigration documents that I may have. MCL 28.727(1)(l).
#7) I am required b y law to provide my new or temporary address by reporting in person to a local law enforcement agency, sheriff's office, or Michigan State Police post having jurisdiction over my residence 21 days prior to traveling to another country or changing my residence to another country. Failure to report this information is a felony and may result in criminal prosecution. MCL 28.725(7)
Note: State forms such as these are a disaster, they are worded in ways that can have multiple meanings, and if one fails/refuses to sign them, they have committed a crime and can be arrested on the spot. "By Law" always included but never is one given the law to read, and not everyone has a computer to go online to read it, even if it is online. Homeless folks, and visiting offenders from other states, are at a real disadvantage.
MCL 28.725 (7) An individual required to be registered under this act who is a resident of this state shall report in person and notify the registering authority having jurisdiction where his or her residence or domicile is located not later than 21 days before he or she changes his or her domicile or residence to another country or travels to another country for more than 7 days. The individual shall state the new country of residence or country of travel and the address of his or her new domicile or residence or place of stay, if known. The department shall update the registration and compilation databases and promptly notify the appropriate law enforcement agency and any applicable sex or child offender registration authority.
Final Guidelines 1-11-2011 in the Federal Register 76 FR at 1631:
(3) Require jurisdictions to have sex offenders report international travel 21 days in advance of such travel and to submit information concerning such travel to the appropriate Federal agencies and databases.
FACT-1: As to passport, a registrant only has to show it when he registers, not at any other time. Michigan form #4.

FACT-2: As to 21-days, immediately you can see there is a discrepancy -in wording- between the registration form and the Michigan statute (MCL 28.725(7)). The form is all a registrant sees normally, but can see the statute if s/he goes online.

FACT-3: Notice, there is NOTHING in the SORNA Guideline about the Michigan 7-day exception. But, Michigan is -in compliance w/SORNA- so Michigan law controls having been approved as part of coming into compliance. Under this circumstance there is -NO NEED- to notify anyone at all IF IF IF a Michigan registrant is traveling to another country for 7 days or less, that being a legal exception
Now for a minute consider the Michigan case we cited above, it says,
"He was arrested Aug. 28 by Michigan State Police minutes before he and his wife were to board a Delta flight at Detroit Metropolitan Airport headed for Amsterdam, and ultimately to Prague. He was to return Sept. 9."

His lawyer saying “The Registry Law is complicated. I think he complied, but we’ll see.”
The article does not say how the Michigan State Police (MSP) knew he was leaving the country, at the particular moment he was to board the plane. The man obviously paid for the anniversary cruise well before the day of departure, and lawyer feels he complied with the law. So how did it all culminate with his arrest minutes before he was to leave?

I'd hate to think there was some form of quasi-entrapment going on, or possibly in the design of the system. Or is there some checking going on at the airport? Possibly Customs? We simply don't know how the authorities were notified to be there when he was to board the plane.

Trooper Explains How System Usually Works:
Trooper Tuer said when an offender reports his intent to leave the United States, the MSP informs that country, which can choose to reject the person. He said some countries typically ignore the warning while others will turn away a convicted sex offender.
Assuming the fellow complied, as his lawyer feels, then the only explanation is, the country rejected him, and the MSP never notified him? Or, waited till he was to board the plane to arrest him, because up till that moment he hadn't broken any law? The system is riddled with glitches and loopholes that can result in a person being arrested. Do the police or lawmakers even care?

Lets summarize: State Forms, State and Federal law MUST be reviewed before trying to travel internationally. Fail to do that and you place yourself in jeopardy; hello prison sentence. Study the three FACTS cited above and you can come up with several scenarios that could place you in jeopardy.

Clearly, the 7-day exception is not in federal law, does this -or something similar- exist in other states? Does the 7-day exception override federal law given Michigan is in compliance and has been approved as such? The form Michigan registrants sign, says, "by law" so obviously law controls? But, which law?

All questions that need answers. Lawyers are you ready?

States NOT in Compliance with SORNA:

OK, you live in a state that has NOT enacted SORNA, so you think this "International Travel" stuff -from SORNA- doesn't apply to you, right?

Think again!
SORNA is in effect in states that HAVE NOT enacted it, see
USA v Paul Shenandoah
US v Felts
And don't think other courts will not rule as these have.

OK, with that out of the way, the rest is simple:
1) What does the form you signed say about International Travel?
2) Is there a state law -where you live- covering what you should do?
3) Are those consistent with each other?
4) Finally, is the answer to #3 consistent with the Federal SORNA Guideline shown above?
Well we have come full circle, if everything is exactly consistent, follow it and you should be fine. But if there are any differences then you are in the same situation as the Michigan situation above.

All questions need answers. Lawyers are you ready?

Here we have simply raised the issues, and the only one who is going to help you IF IF you get arrested, is, a lawyer. It may be worth investing a few bucks beforehand to get an answer from one.

Good luck, and have a great time outside of the US on vacation.

BTW, remember the court systems in other countries do not provide you with the same protections as there are in the US; Amanda Knox will tell you that too...

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

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