Bill sets parameters for South Carolina sex offenders to get off the registry

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) — A proposed bill in the South Carolina Senate would establish guidelines for convicted rapists to petition a court to be removed from the sex offender registry.

The bill follows a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling last year declaring it unconstitutional for the state not to have a process to remove sex offenders from the registry.

The bill was proposed by Sen. Greg Hembree (R-Horry County) on Feb. 16 and remains with the Senate Judiciary Committee. No other senator is on the list of sponsors of the bill.

That court ruling, Hembree said, created a race against time to create a bill.

“What’s so dangerous about this – and we’re sort of playing with live rounds – is that the court is saying, ‘If you don’t have a law in place at this point, then everyone is going be put off by the sex offender registry,” Hembree said.

He said there are “dangerous and scary people” who need to be put on the registry.

“The clock is ticking against law and order, and in favor of those who would like to end this,” Hembree said.

The deadline for passing a bill is June 9.

Various stakeholders, including prosecutors and public defenders, came together to draft the legislation. As a lawyer, Hembree said he was well-positioned to support the bill.

Depending on the categorization of the offence, people convicted of sex offenses can ask a court to be removed from the registry 15 or 30 years after their conviction.

The proposed three-tier offense system is as follows:

Level I

  • Third degree criminal sexual behavior
  • Abduction of a person 18 years of age or older, unless the offenses included a criminal sex offense or an attempted sex offense
  • Incest
  • Sodomy
  • Peeping, voyeurism or aggravated voyeurism
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sex with a patient or trainee
  • Administering, distributing, distributing, delivering or aiding, abetting, attempting or conspiring to administer, distribute, distribute or deliver a controlled substance or gamma hydroxy butyrate to a person with intent to commit a crime listed in Section 44-53 -370(f) of the state code (except petty larceny or grand larceny or any other offense required by Title I of the federal Adam Walsh Child Welfare or Safety Act of 2006, the Sex Offenders Registration and Notification Act)

Level II

  • Second degree criminal sexual behavior
  • Hiring a child for sexual performance
  • Produce, direct or promote the sexual performance of a child
  • Trafficking in persons, except where it does not include a criminal sex offense or an attempted criminal sex offense
  • Criminal sexual behavior with minors, second degree, if the evidence presented during the criminal proceedings and the court concludes that the conviction for the offense resulted from consensual sexual behavior if the offender was 18 years of age or younger at the time of the time, or if there was consent sexual behavior between persons under the age of 16, the convicted person is not an offender and is not required to register in accordance with the provisions of article
  • Criminal sexual behavior with minors, third degree
  • Criminal solicitation of a minor if the purpose of the solicitation or attempted solicitation was to persuade, induce, induce or coerce the person solicited to engage in or participate in sexual activity, or if they were to engage in sexual activity in the presence of the person who has been solicited

Level III

  • First Degree Criminal Sexual Behavior
  • Criminal sexual behavior with minors, first degree
  • Criminal sexual behavior: assault with intent to commit
  • Abduction of a person under 18, except when the offense is committed by the parent of the child
  • Criminal sexual behavior when the victim is a spouse
  • Sexual battery of a spouse
  • Any Level III offender committed after the offender has become a Level I or Level II offender

Under current law, those who are convicted of sex offenses – and who are not found not guilty by reason of insanity – must be placed on the registry.

A Level I offender can apply to a circuit court to be removed from the Sex Offender Registry 15 years after their release from prison without supervision, or after the end of their probation, parole or other alternative to prison. ‘incarceration.

Level II and Level III offenders may apply after 30 years from the date they are released from prison or unsupervised prison, or when their supervision, parole or other alternative to incarceration ends.

The court can ask the South Carolina Department of Mental Health to assess the offender to see if he is at risk of committing another sex crime.

“The court must decide on the basis of clear and convincing evidence that the offender no longer presents a foreseeable risk of re-offending and that it is in the interests of justice to grant the motion to remove the obligation to ‘record,’ the bill reads.

If the request for removal from the register is refused, the person who has been convicted must wait five years to submit a new request.

If passed, the law would be retroactive.

In South Carolina, those convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct – the highest sex offense – face up to 30 years in prison. Second-degree sexual behavior can result in up to 20 years, and criminal third-degree sexual behavior can result in up to 10 years.

In the decision of the case, Dennis J. Powell v. South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement, Chief Justice Donald Beatty wrote down Powell’s argument that being on the sex offender list at life “is punitive under the Eighth Amendment” and violates Powell’s “rights.” to due process and equal protection.

The ruling says it is unconstitutional not to have the ability to conduct a judicial review to see if an offender re-offends.

Powell was arrested for criminal solicitation of a minor in February 2008 after he had “graphically sexual” conversations on the internet with an undercover police officer posing as a 12-year-old girl. Powell pleaded guilty in 2009 and sentenced to two years in prison, suspended to one year of probation.

Powell completed his probation, completed outpatient psychiatric treatment and was seen by two mental health professionals who said he was at low risk of reoffending.

Hembree does not expect his proposal to be the final form of the bill. He hopes he will soon be heard.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect,” he said. “We’re not perfect for being the end of good here.”

News13 reached out to the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault for comment and did not hear back.

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