Under a new law that will go into effect next month (March 2019), a greater number of people will be added to the Ohio sex offender registry. Sponsored by State Representative Tim Schaffer, a Republican from Lancaster, Ohio House Bill 92 (HB 92) will force people who commit public indecency for sexual gratification when children will likely witness it to register as Tier 1 sex offenders. Before this revision to Ohio’s sex offender laws, those convicted of the misdemeanor crime of public indecency were not required to register as sex offenders.
Tier 1 sex offenders must provide their photo, address, place of work, and other personal information to the authorities shortly after their conviction or release from detention. For 15 years, they must update this information annually and are subject to prosecution if they fail to do so. For this reason, you should think twice before pleading guilty to indecent exposure. To talk to a Columbus sex crimes lawyer about defending your case, call Luftman, Heck & Associates today. For a free and confidential case consultation, contact us today at (614) 500-3836.
Why Did Ohio Toughen its Sex Offender Laws?
The policy was inspired by an incident in Fairfield County involving a man who was repeatedly charged for exposing himself to school buses full of children. Since the offender did not need to register as a sex offender, the police were not aware that he had returned to town, where he eventually re-offended. In a press release, Baltimore Police Chief Mike Tussey said that by “closing this loophole, law enforcement will now be able to track and monitor offenders who expose themselves for their own gratification at the cost of our children’s innocence.”
Chief Tussey testified before House and Senate committees in 2017 and 2018 in support of the HB 92. Others who support the legislation include the Fraternal Order of Police, the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, and Fairfield County Prosecutor Kyle Witt, who considers that Ohio House Bill 92 “will give prosecutors another tool to protect the public.” HB 92 passed with unanimous support, meaning the state’s legislators were unphased by the incredible burdens that registration places on sex offenders.
Who Does Ohio House Bill 92 Apply To?
The reforms apply to some people convicted of the crime of public indecency. Section 2907.09 of the Ohio Revised Code defines the offense as recklessly and publicly exposing your genitals or engaging in sexual acts or other conduct that could reasonably be interpreted as sexual. Alternatively, the offense may be charged when you knowingly expose your private parts for arousal, gratification, or to lure children.
The only people who may need to register as sex offenders under House bill 92 are those who are convicted of the version of public indecency involving exposure to children for the purpose of sexual gratification. Under this scenario, a judge will now have the discretion to order you to register as a sex offender. But if the affected children are more than 10 years younger than you, and you have a prior conviction for the offense, the judge will have to impose sex offender registration.
Representative Schaffer, the bill’s sponsor, believes “this strict standard will prevent a person who commits an accidental offense from being forced to register.” Thus, if you get convicted of public indecency for urinating in public, and no children see you, you won’t be affected by HB 92.
Do You Have Questions About Ohio House Bill 92? Call LHA Today
The writers of HB 92 ignore the fact that many situations can be misinterpreted, and witness testimony of these kinds of events is often unreliable. For these reasons, it is likely that some innocent people will wind up with the burden of registering as a sex offender. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we can help you fight allegations of sexual offenses. Contact us today at (614) 500-3836 to learn more about how we can defend your case.