Updated on December 21, 2019
Lifetime Registration of Juvenile Sex Offenders Found Constitutional
Issue: The Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) requires lifetime registration as a sex offender for juveniles convicted of severity level 1 felonies. N.R. was convicted of rape when he was fourteen, and was later convicted for failing to register. Is KORA’s lifetime registration provision constitutional as applied to a fourteen-year-old juvenile defendant?
Answer: Yes. Lifetime registration under KORA is part of a civil regulatory scheme, not a punishment, so there is no constitutional violation.
Facts: Fourteen-year-old N.R. was convicted of rape, a severity level 1 felony. A magistrate judge ordered him to register as a sex-offender for five years. During the five year period, the legislature amended KORA to require lifetime registration for juveniles fourteen years old or older who committed severity level 1 felonies. N.R. was charged with two counts of failing to register. The district court denied his motion to dismiss based on his constitutional arguments and convicted N.R. of both counts.
Discussion: N.R. argued that lifetime registration had the effect of a punishment. The court first determined that lifetime registration is not a punishment because it is it part of a civil regulatory scheme and therefore does not implicate the Constitution. The court cited cases discarding this argument for adults, finding that the effect is no different for juveniles. Lifetime registration requirements, unlike juvenile death penalty and life without parole sentences, are not a punishment and therefore do not violate the Eighth Amendment or the Ex Post Facto Clause. Second, the court also compared KORA to its federal counterpart, finding that federal circuit courts have determined that registration is not a punishment.
Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-4906(h) (Supp. 2018).
State v. Petersen-Beard, 377 P.3d 1127, 1129 (Kan. 2016) (finding that lifetime registration under KORA is not a punishment).