For eight years, Congressman Chris Smith has been pursuing a law to place a special symbol on the passport of anyone who has been convicted of a sex offense against a minor. Smith is a Republican from New Jersey, the home state of Megan Kanka, for whom “Megan’s Law” is named. Under Megan’s Law, those who are required to register as a sex offender have their personal information made available to the public. Now, those people may have a hard time traveling, because President Obama signed Smith’s bill into law. 1
A Controversial Mark
Congressman Smith believes the law is essential to protecting children around the world. “It is imperative and long overdue that the United States take the child protection lessons it has learned domestically with the successful notification systems first created by Megan’s Laws and expand them globally to prevent convicted U.S. sex offenders from harming children abroad,” Smith said.2
Some may endorse this point of view, but there are many voices who disagree that this law should’ve been passed. “We believe it violates so many constitutional rights of our citizens, we just cannot ignore it,” said Janice Bellucci, head of the group California Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL). “This is the first time in the history of our country that any American citizen will have a unique identifier on their passport.”3
Unconstitutional Interference with Freedom of Movement?
The RSOL has already filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging the law, saying that “a passport symbol that identifies an individual as a registered sex offender could place at significant risk that person as well as others traveling with them, including family members and business colleagues.”4
It is possible that a challenge may not only defeat the law, but could also highlight the many problems with sex offender registries across the country. Registries often fail in their purpose because they are poorly maintained and often contain outdated information. They cannot protect against first-time offenders and nearly 90% of sexual assaults are committed by family members of acquaintances who have access to victims.
Furthermore, many people commit crimes against minors while they are themselves minors, but because of registration laws, must bear the mark of that conviction for the rest of their lives. Placing a mark on the passport of such a traveler will do nothing but bring harassment to a person whose crimes are far in their past and prevent them from exercising their freedom to travel.
Speak to an Experienced Post-Conviction Attorney Today
If you are a sex offender and you don’t want a passport with a special indicator on it, you need to act now. Under the law, you will not have to obtain a sex offender mark on your passport if your information is no longer made available to the public. That is how we may be able to help you.
Our skilled lawyers may be able to have your name removed from the Megan’s Law website or help you end your requirement to register as a sex offender. With offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Ventura, Torrance, West Covina and Sherman Oaks, Wallin & Klarich is available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call our offices at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. See 18 U.S.C. 2250. href=”#ref1″>↩
2. Andrea Noble, “Bill to mark sex offender passports raises ire of criminal justice advocacy group,” The Washington Times, February 3, 2016, available at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/feb/3/bill-to-mark-sex-offender-passports-raises-ire-of-/. href=”#ref2″>↩
3. Id. href=”#ref3″>↩
4. http://www.newsweek.com/civil-rights-group-sex-offender-passports-marking-state-department-424754 href=”#ref4″>↩