Supreme Court Considers Whether Old Sex Offenses Can Get New Penalties
September 30, 2009 - 10:18 AMThe Supreme Court will decide whether sex offenders who didn't register with state officials before harsher punishments went into effect can still be sentenced to extra time in prison.
The high court on Wednesday agreed to hear an appeal from Thomas Carr, who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse in Alabama. When released from prison in 2004, he moved to Indiana but didn't register with that state's sexual offender database.
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which increased penalties for not registering, was not passed until 2006. But when Carr was arrested in 2007, he was charged using that law and sentenced to 37 months in prison. Carr appealed, saying prosecutors should not have used a law that wasn't in existence when he committed his crime.
But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said that when the law was passed, Congress did not say it did not apply retroactively.
Other courts have said that the law - SORNA - cannot be applied retroactively, and Carr wants the high court to resolve the conflict.
The case is Carr v. United States, 08-1301.
(Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)