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Change in Missouri Sex Offender Registry Law Could Allow Some Sex Offenders to Remove Name from the Statewide Registry

Under old Missouri law, both a serial rapist and a person charged with misdemeanor sexual misconduct (public urination in some cases) would be placed on the state’s Sex Offender Registry for life. The Registry’s burdensome reporting requirements applied to both people, including reporting to a police station four times every year. Everyone was lumped together. It was one of the toughest Registry laws in the country.

Under the old Missouri statute, if you were ordered to register federally, then you were always required to register under Missouri law for life. Period.

But it didn’t work the other way around. If you were eligible for removal from the federal registry, which was a different system with an easier method of removal, you did not have a method to get removed from the Missouri registry. Even though there was a method to get removed from the registry, appellate courts denied removal under the old Missouri statute.  That is no longer the cases, and thousands of people required to register previously are now immediately eligible for removal from the registry.

New Missouri Law

Senate Bill 665 became effective in August, and transformed Missouri’s system from being “one size fits all” to a “tiered system,” which mirrors the federal system.

Under Missouri’s new tiered system, a Tier I offense is eligible for removal after fifteen years of the date of conviction and twenty-five years for a Tier II offense. A Tier III offense is only eligible for removal if it was a juvenile adjudication and is eligible after twenty-five years from the date of conviction. Source.

After a person passes the fifteen or twenty-five year mark, they are not automatically removed from the registry. They must petition the court and a judge will make the final decision.  They must have a completely clean record during that time, and must have been faithfully registering pursuant to law.

Additionally, the new Missouri law changed the reporting requirements based on Tiers. Under the new law, Tier I offenders have to visit law enforcement annually, Tier II offenders will be required to update their information every six months, and Tier III offenders must check in four times per year.

Purpose of the Change

The sponsor of the new law, St. Charles Republican State Representative Kurt Bahr, explained that the purpose of the new law is to “create[] a little less burden on the local law enforcement agency so that they’re not spending all their time on these guys who are typically lower-threat people and they have more time to focus on the tier three offenders.” Source.

With these big changes to Missouri’s sex offender registry laws, there will likely be a huge spike in the number of low-level sex offenders who request removal from the registry in Southwest Missouri.