9th Circuit concludes Navajo offenders must register with state
Two sex offenders from the Navajo Nation who failed to update their registration information with the state of Arizona lost their appeal on Monday.

Bandon Dineshu Begay and Ozzy Carl Watchman initially registered with the state before moving to the reservation. Both men were indicted for failing to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

The men cited a provision of the law that applies when "uncontrollable circumstances" prevent an offender from updating his or her information. In this case, they said the Navajo Nation is still in the process of establishing its own registration system.

"Because Defendants were required to update their registration with Arizona even while living in the Navajo Nation, no “uncontrollable circumstances” prevented their compliance with SORNA," the 9th Circuit said in response.

"Reading SORNA as Defendants read it would mean that sex offenders who move to tribal lands that have elected to implement SORNA but has not yet created a registry would have no obligation to update their registration, allowing them to 'slip through the cracks,'" the court added.

The decision appears to conflict with one from the New Mexico Court of Appeals in which three Navajo men didn't have to register with the state because they lived and worked on the reservation. New Mexico is part of the 10th Circuit.

9th Circuit Decision:
US v. Begay / US v. Watchman (September 20, 2010)

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