United States v. Elkins

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 06-14-2012
  • Case #: 11-30135
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Judge Callahan for the Court; Circuit Judges Nelson and Tashima
  • Full Text Opinion

Sex offender registration requirements based on an offense committed by a juvenile before the passage of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) do not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause when state registration requirements at the time of the conviction require substantially similar disclosures.

The federal district court dismissed an indictment against Joshua Elkins for failure to register under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), based on a pre-SORNA juvenile conviction in the State of Washington. The government appealed, arguing that registration requirements under SORNA do not violate the Ex Post Facto clause because SORNA is a civil regulatory scheme, not punitive. Elkins argued that the registration requirements of SORNA violate the Ex Post Facto Clause because they were not applicable at the time of his offense, and that registration based on an offense committed as a juvenile is punitive because it makes otherwise confidential juvenile records public. The Court found that although SORNA may be applicable because of a pre-SORNA offense, failure to register is an ongoing offense and does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause. Additionally, while juvenile records are typically protected under the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act (FJDA), Congress implemented SORNA after FJDA with the understanding and intent that it limited certain protections afforded juvenile delinquents under FJDA. Moreover, Washington state law required Elkins to register and disclose similar information as required by SORNA, therefore the SORNA requirements "did not substantially change Elkins's obligation to register" and do not "transform the application of SORNA to him into a criminal penalty prohibited by the Ex Post Facto Clause."

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