Kansas Offender Registration Act: Substantial Compliance Is Not a Defense

State v. Stoll, No. 117,081 (Kan. 2021)

Author: Parker Bednasek, Staff Editor

Issue: Under the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA), drug offenders are required to register new addresses within three days of moving.  For seven years, Stoll registered her new addresses within three days of moving; however, she failed to register her new address within three days after her last move. Is substantial compliance a defense to failing to register under KORA?

Answer: No.  Although KORA is a remedial statute, substantial compliance would defeat the purpose of the law.

Facts: In 2008, Stoll was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance.  At sentencing, the court ordered Stoll to register under KORA.  For seven years, Stoll complied with KORA’s registration requirements.  This included registering within three days when she moved or changed jobs.  But in 2015, Stoll waited a month to register a new address after moving.  Stoll argued that she substantially complied with KORA’s registration requirements and should not be found guilty.

Discussion: Under Kansas law, remedial statutes can generally be satisfied by substantial compliance.  Substantial compliance is where an individual complies with the spirit of the law, but not necessarily the absolute letter.  KORA is a remedial statute; however, its purpose is to protect the public from drug offenders who the Kansas Legislature concluded are likely to reoffend.  Substantial compliance with KORA would defeat its purpose because the public would not be protected from drug offenders who fail to register.  Instead, KORA’s purpose can only be achieved through strict compliance.  Therefore, substantial compliance is not a defense for failing to register under KORA.

Key Authorities:

  • Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-5203(f) (Supp. 2015) (making failure to register under KORA a strict liability crime).
  • High v. Kansas Dep’t of Revenue, No. 103,260, 2010 WL 5490738, at *1 (Kan. Ct. App. Dec. 23, 2010) (unpublished) (“[s]ubstantial compliance—rather than strict compliance—is the rule for remedial statutes.”).
  • State v. Meredith, 399 P.3d 859, 859 (Kan. 2017) (holding that the Kansas Legislature intended KORA to be a remedial statute), https://www.kscourts.org/KSCourts/media/KsCourts/Opinions/110520.pdf?ext=.pdf.
  • State v. Fredrick, 292 Kan. 169, 173 (2011) (stating that KORA’s purpose is to protect the public from certain offenders the Kansas Legislature concluded are likely to reoffend), https://www.kscourts.org/KSCourts/media/KsCourts/Opinions/102848.pdf?ext=.pdf.  

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