Monday, March 04, 2013

SORNA Requires Registration of Juvenile Offender

US v. Under Seal: JD (for "juvenile defendant") was judged delinquent based on allegations of sexual assault against his half sisters.  He was sentenced to a term of incarceration and supervision until his 21st birthday.  A special condition of that supervision is that he register as a sex offender under SORNA, over JD's objection.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed that condition.  The court first noted that JD fell within the language of SORNA's definition of a "sex offender" because he was over 14 years of age and had been adjudicated as delinquent.  It then rejected JD's two arguments that the registration requirement nonetheless was invalid.  First, JD argued that the registration requirement violated the confidentiality provisions of the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act.  The court disagreed, concluding that the more specific provisions of SORNA controlled over the general confidentiality provisions of the FJDA and that Congress clearly intended that result.  Second, JD argued that the registration requirement violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  The court disagreed, concluding that SORNA is a "non-punitive, civil regulator scheme, both in purpose and effect" that did not implicate the Eighth Amendment.

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