Archive | Sex offender registration

Tuesday, November 14th, 2023

In a summary order, the Second Circuit vacates a district court’s judgment imposing a complete ban on internet use, as a condition of supervised release. The Circuit concludes that it’s “substantively unreasonable” to impose such a ban on someone whose offense involved child pornography, and no evidence suggested he “is likely to seek out children on social media or prey on them in reality.” United States v. Gonyea, Nos. 22-1722-cr, 22-1727-cr (2d Cir. Nov. 13, 2023) (C.J.J.’s Jacobs, Lohier, Lee) (“Summary Order”).

I. Background

In 2017, Appellant was convicted of one count “of receiving child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(2)(A) and (b)(1)” and sentenced to 72 months’  imprisonment “and a life term of supervised release.” Order at 3.

In 2021, after his release from custody, Probation Officers discovered that he had “created two email accounts but failed to disclose them to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services,” as required by the terms of his supervised release. Id. Probation Officers also “seized an unauthorized cell phone . . . containing at least three images of child pornography.” Order at 3-4.

After Gonyea admitted to several supervised release violations, the district court revoked his supervised release and sentenced him to a term of imprisonment “and a new life term of supervised release.” Order at 4. In addition, he “separately  pleaded guilty . . . to one count of …

Posted By
Categories: child pornography, Sex offender registration, substantive unreasonableness, supervised release

Continue Reading
Friday, September 6th, 2019

Second Circuit holds that Fourth Amendment not violated by Suffolk County program that permits nonprofit organization to conduct home visits with individuals on the sex offender registry in order to confirm the accuracy of their registration address.

On September 4, 2019, the Second Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Droney (joined by Judge Cabranes and Judge Raggi), affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of Suffolk County in a case where an individual who was required to register as a sex offender argued, in a claim for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that home visits conducted by an organization the county had contracted with to verify his address for the registry constituted unreasonable seizures. The Court, which assumed without deciding that there was state action and that the plaintiff was “seized” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, held that the visits were constitutional under the “special needs” doctrine.

In Jones v. County of Suffolk and Parents for Megan’s Law, No. 18-1602-cv (2d Cir. Sept. 4, 2019), the County of Suffolk had contracted with a private nonprofit organization, Parents for Megan’s Law (“PFML”), to visit …

Posted By
Categories: Fourth Amendment, Sex offender registration, special needs

Continue Reading
Friday, June 21st, 2019

A SCOTUS plurality holds that Congress authorizing the U.S. Attorney General  “to specify the applicability” of  SORNA’s registration requirements to people convicted before SORNA was enacted (in 2006), is not an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority under Article I, § 1 of the Constitution.

Yesterday, in Gundy v. United States, Sup. Ct. No. 17-6086, 2019 WL 2527473 (June 20, 2019), a case out of the Second Circuit, a plurality of the Supreme Court held that 34 U.S.C. § 20913(d) — which authorizes the U.S. Attorney General “to specify the applicability” of the registration requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”) to people convicted before the statute’s enactment (in 2006) — is not an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.

The lead opinion was written by Justice Kagan, joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor. See Opinion (“Op.”) at 1-18. Justice Alito filed a short, one-page, opinion “concurring in the judgment.” Concurrence, Alito, J., at 1. And Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion that was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas. Dissent, Gorsuch, J., at 1-33. Justice Kavanaugh did not participate in the decision since he was not on the …

Posted By
Categories: delegation, Sex offender registration

Continue Reading
Friday, October 12th, 2018

ACCA Oral Arguments in Stokeling & Stitt (and FDNY nondelegation argument in Gundy!)

This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases addressing whether specific state offenses are violent felonies within the meaning of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA): Stokeling v. United States (Florida robbery statute that punishes takings by slight force), and United States v. Stitt (state burglary statutes that punish vehicle break-ins). The statutes at issue are similar to the New York robbery and burglary statutes in their scope.

For a detailed analysis of the arguments in these cases, see Rory Little’s analysis at SCOTUSBlog.

The transcript in Stokeling is available here.

The transcript in Stitt, which featured a masterful oral argument by Jeffrey Fisher, is available here.

Speaking of masterful, the FDNY’s Sarah Baumgartel recently argued before the Supreme Court in United States v. Gundy on the question of whether SORNA’s delegation of authority to the Attorney General under 42 U.S.C. § 16913 …

Posted By
Categories: ACCA, burglary, categorical approach, robbery, Sex offender registration

Continue Reading
Monday, March 5th, 2018

Significant FDNY Cert. Grant Concerning SORNA

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Gundy v. United States, No. 17-6086, to decide whether the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) violates the nondelegation doctrine by delegating authority to the Attorney General to issue regulations under 42 U.S.C. § 16913(d). The grant is particularly significant because, as Sentencing Resource Counsel Ada Phleger observed, there is no clear circuit split on this issue. The petition in Gundy is available here. (The Court granted cert on Issue # 4, at pages 17-19 of the petition.)

SORNA delegates authority to the Attorney General to decide whether the Act’s registration requirements apply to sex offenders who were convicted before SORNA was enacted.  This delegation, Mr. Gundy argues, unconstitutionally grants the Attorney General “unfettered discretion to determine who is subject to criminal legislation without an ‘intelligible principle.'”  Cert. Petition at 19.  Notably, Justice Gorsuch raised a similar concern in a …

Posted By
Categories: Sex offender registration, sex offenses

Continue Reading
Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Fuller Brush-Off

United States v. Fuller, No. 09-1437-cr (2d Cir. November 30, 2010) (McLaughlin, Straug, Raggi, CJJ)

In 2004, Ross Fuller pled guilty to a sex offense in Missouri and became a registered sex offender. He complied with the applicable registration requirements until June of 2006, when he moved to New York, and failed to register either in Missouri or New York State. Federal authorities arrested Fuller in New York in October of 2007, and he pled guilty to violating the Sex Offender Registration Notification Act (“SORNA”), 42 U.S.C. § 16901, et seq., which makes it a crime to travel in interstate commerce and knowingly fail to register or update a sex offender registration.

On appeal, he made two arguments, both unsuccessful.

First, when Congress enacted SORNA in 2006, it included a provision, § 16913(d), granting the Attorney General the authority to “specify the applicability of” SORNA to sex offenders convicted before …

Posted By
Categories: Sex offender registration, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Sex Offender Goes South, As Does His Defense

United States v. Van Buren, No. 08-6262-cr (2d Cir. March 17, 2010) (Walker, Straub, Livingston, CJJ)

A jury convicted Van Buren of failing to comply with the registration requirements of SORNA after he moved from his hotel in Binghamton, New York, to his mother’s house in North Carolina without updating his New York registration or registering in North Carolina.

On appeal, he first raised a host of constitutional challenges, all of which were foreclosed by United States v. Guzman, an intervening decision. See Moving Violations, posted January 7, 2010.

He also claimed that the district court erred in its jury instructions about the scope of SORNA’s registration requirements. The statutory scheme requires a convicted sex offender to register, and keep the registration current – including providing the address of his residence – in each jurisdiction where he resides, is employed or is a student. In addition, within three business days …

Posted By
Categories: Sex offender registration, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Moving Violations

United States v. Guzman; United States v. Hall, Nos. 08-5561-cr; 08-6004-cr (2d Cir. January 7, 2010) (Miner, Straub, Wesley, CJJ)

Defendants Guzman and Hall were both registered sex offenders in New York. Each moved to another state without updating his registration, and was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a), which makes it a crime for a person required to register as a sex offender to travel in interstate commerce and knowingly fail to keep his registration information current. Each defendant moved to dismiss his indictment on several grounds; the district court rejected all but the Commerce Clause challenges. Finding that the statutory scheme (“SORNA”) exceeded Congress’s authority to legislate pursuant to the Commerce Clause, the district court dismissed the indictment in both cases. On these consolidated government appeals, the circuit reversed.

The court first noted that § 2250(a) itself is a proper exercise of the power to regulate commerce, …

Posted By
Categories: Sex offender registration, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Wednesday, December 16th, 2009


United States v. Hester, No. 08-4665-cr (2d Cir. December 16, 2009) (Winter, Cabranes, Hall CJJ) (per curiam)

After pleading guilty to two sex offenses in New York State, Hester was required to register as a sex offender. He completed his initial registration – which included explicit instructions that Hester update if he moved or changed jobs – and four change of address forms. Then, in April of 2007, he disappeared. Three months later, Hester was arrested on unrelated charges in Florida. He had neither registered as a sex offender there nor updated his New York registration.

Hester pled guilty to violating the Sex Offender Registration Act, “SORNA,” 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a), and was sentenced to 37 months’ imprisonment. On appeal, he raised three unsuccessful challenges to the statute: a due process claim that he had unsuccessfully litigated below and Commerce Clause and vagueness challenges that he had not.

The due …

Posted By
Categories: appeal waiver, due process, Sex offender registration, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Who’s SORA Now?

Willette v. Fischer, No. 06-1422-pr (2d Cir. October 29, 2007) (Meskill, Newman, Sotomayor, CJJ)

Although the Blog does not regularly report on decisions in state prisoners’ habeas corpus proceedings, this nifty case has relevance to federal criminal practice.

Steven Willette, a convicted sex offender in New York State, was tried and convicted, inter alia, of multiple violations of New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). During 1997 and 1998, Willette was living with his girlfriend but, on the four occasions that he was supposed to report his address (SORA prescribed ninety-day intervals), he falsely stated that he was still living with his father. Willette was found guilty of four SORA counts of failing to report change of address. He received a six-month misdemeanor sentence on the first SORA count, and three consecutive felony sentences on the others, for a total of ten and one half to twenty-one years’ imprisonment.

Here, …

Posted By
Categories: double jeopardy, multiple punishments, Sex offender registration, Uncategorized

Continue Reading