Nichols v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: April 4, 2016
  • Case #: 15-5238
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: ALITO, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) requires an offender to appear in a current jurisdiction to report updates of his or her information.

Petitioner pled guilty to one count of Knowingly Fail to Register or Update a Registration, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"), for his actions of moving from Kansas to the Philippines without notifying anyone of his status. Under SORNA, Petitioner was required to appear in person within three business days, in at least one involved jurisdiction, to update all information required for the registry. The Tenth Circuit upheld his conviction, citing precedent in United States v. Murphy that held that the state in which an individual is moving from is considered an involved jurisdiction; however, the Court held that Kansas was not an involved jurisdiction. Foreign countries are not considered jurisdictions under SORNA, and 42 U.S.C. §16913(a) requires an offender to appear in person in at least one jurisdiction where the offender resides, works, or studies, which led the Court to conclude that SORNA required appearance in the new jurisdiction and not Kansas. The United States Supreme Court found that the language of the statute is in consistently present tense, its text is plain, and that Petitioner’s sudden departure to a foreign country is criminalized under both state law and International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders. This led the Supreme Court to hold that the language in SORNA does not create any additional “loopholes or deficiencies” for sex offenders and that Kansas was not an involved jurisdiction in this case. REVERSED.

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