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New Changes in Michigan SORA Law for 2021

This past week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved House Bill 5679 of 2020 and signed it into law. HB 5679 is a new Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA), and it amends several sections of the Michigan SORA law that has been in-effect previously. This new SORA law is not in effect quite yet. In this brief article, we highlight some of the changes you can expect in this new SORA law.

At Prain Law, PLLC, we specifically concentrate our practice on defending those accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan. PLEASE NOTE, however, that we do not handle matters involving post-conviction matters, such as concerns only about Sex Offender Registration or Petitions for removal from SORA, but without any new charges. As your Detroit Sex Crimes Defense Attorney, we are a trial firm that represents those accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan at the trial phase - our focus is to keep you from ever having to register as a Sex Offender in the first place by being found NOT GUILTY of CSC, rather than rectifying the SORA consequences of a plea or conviction from a previous case that is not currently in Court at the beginning, or "pretrial" stage, and we therefore also do not do expungements. This article is for informational purposes only.

This new HB 5679 was signed by Governor Whitmer last week, and according to the Michigan Legislature website as of the date of this article, has been designated as Public Act 295 of 2020. While it will take us some time to painstakingly and accurately compare this new Michigan SORA law to the existing one in great detail, as of now, it appears that the new Public Act 295 of 2020 signed by Governor Whitmer includes some of the following important changes:

  • For those who have successfully had the Criminal Sexual Conduct or other conviction requiring them to register under SORA set aside, more commonly referred to as getting an "expungement," they will no longer be required to register as a Sex Offender under SORA, and their registration under SORA will be removed.
  • Those who received an assignment under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) for the charge requiring them to register under SORA, and successfully completed that HYTA status, they will not be required to register, regardless of when they got HYTA. ​​​​​​​
  • The "School Safety Zone" Section of the SORA law, restricting where registrants may live, work, and loiter in relation to Schools (the "1000 foot restriction") is removed.

While there was some discussion of the "Tier" levels (Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3) being removed, that did not happen. The Michigan SORA laws in Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct cases have been a source of much recent controversy and Constitutional challenge in Federal Court. Some have reported that this new SORA law fails to take into account certain holdings and rulings of the Federal Courts. Although the Michigan SORA Act is a State law (not Federal), it does effect the Federal Constitutional rights of the registrants, and any such State law must comply with the requirements of the United States Constitution. Because the new law appears as though it may still be in conflict with Federal rulings, this new law may end the subject of more Constitutional challenges.

Again, at this time, this is only a very basic overview of some of the most important changes to this very new law. We do not accept cases for relief from SORA, rather, we only take cases that are new and/or still pending in Court. However, for the time being, registrants must continue to report or "verify" in the same manner as before.

If you or someone you know is being investigated or charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan, the goal should be to make sure they're never convicted and placed on the Sex Offender Registry to begin with, and that takes a tried and proven trial lawyer with extensive, specific, experience in Criminal Sexual Conduct defense. If you or someone you know has been accused or charged, contact Prain Law, PLLC immediately at (248) 731-4543 or reach out to us via our Contact Form.

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Prain Law, PLLC is focused only on the types charges featured on our website. This helps us deliver the decisive, effective advocacy for which our clients know us. We only serve individuals currently under investigation or who have a current case pending in court. Our firm does not represent injury victims, defendants who have already taken a plea or have been sentenced, or those seeking to expunge a criminal record. We do not respond to anyone who is not involved in a pending investigation or who has a court case for a type of charge we do not handle, but we wish you the very best of luck.