Court rules juvenile Indians must join sex offender registry

Indian juveniles who committed sex-related offenses must register as sex offenders as adults, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday.

In separate cases, three Indian males who are members of federally recognized tribes admitted to sexual abuse charges. As a condition of probation or supervision, each agreed to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which is part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

Registration would publicly identify the juveniles, whose identities were otherwise protected during their proceedings. They argued that SORNA conflicts with the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act and violates the U.S. Constitution.

The 9th Circuit agreed that the statues are on conflict. But in a unanimous decision, the court ruled that Congress, in passing SORNA, carved out an exception to the confidentiality provisions of the FJDA.

"SORNA unambiguously directs juveniles over the age of 14 convicted of certain aggravated sex crimes to register, and thus carves out a narrow category of juvenile delinquents who must disclose their juvenile crimes by registering as a sex offender," the court stated.

The 9th Circuit also said SORNA does not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of effective assistance of counsel.

Get the Story:
Teen Sex Offenders Lose Registration Challenge (Courthouse News Service 1/25)
Kids can be ordered to register as sex offenders (AP 1/25)

9th Circuit Decision:
US v. Juvenile Male (January 25, 2012)

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