Lubbock man's case challenges federal sex offender law - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/28/10

Lubbock man's case challenges federal sex offender law

Source: LSO Source: LSO

By James Clark | email

Does the Texas Sex Offender Registry violate a Lubbock man's Constitutional rights? The office of Federal Public Defender argues that yes, it does.

Assistant Federal Public Defender David Sloan writes on behalf of Ralph Maddox, 54, that the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act "is unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment and the indictment should be dismissed."

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, in part, protects citizens against being charged twice for the same crime, being made to testify against themselves, and being arrested or having property confiscated without due process.

Sloan also writes for Maddox that Congress overstepped its authority by trying to make a federal crime out of local violations. "Congress does not have the power to force citizens convicted of crimes committed in one locality to register on a federal registry."

Ralph Maddox might have gone unnoticed living in Commander's Palace mobile home park on Lubbock's west side, except that he let traffic citations go unpaid and a warrant was issued for his arrest. So, when police went looking for him they found that he had been convicted in Jackson County Missouri in 1993 of a charge called Sodomy Of A Child. He was ordered to serve five years probation. Court records say Maddox was notified in 1995 of his obligation to register as a sex offender by the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

Court records also say Maddox did register while living in Anaheim California. But the criminal complaint against Maddox on June 4th says he never once registered while living in Lubbock from September 2007 until the day of his arrest.

Sloan's motion to dismiss Maddox' case freely confesses that Maddox was informed of his obligation to register under Missouri law. But Sloan argues that the document did not inform Maddox of any obligation to register in other states, such as Texas, or with the federal government.

Above and beyond the constitutional argument, the motion says a sex offender can be charged for knowingly failing to register. The law requires that a sex offender must be informed by a government official of his or her obligation to register.

The Public Defender writes, "The government failed to give Maddox notice of the very existence of the register and now seeks to punish him for not adhering to the obligations imposed by this register."

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