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State v. Bryant

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant, Bryant, was arrested and convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, and he argues the requirement violated the 5th Amendment because it fails to give sex offenders sufficient notice.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    As long as the defendant is given sufficient notice of the requirement that they register as a sex offender, a law holding them strictly liable if they do not register as sex offender does not violate the due process clause of the 5th Amendment. 

    Facts.

    Bryant, while in prison, was notified that after his release he was required to register as sex offender, which he acknowledged in writing. Bryant also acknowledged he was required to notify the county sheriff of any intention to relocate within ten days of the relocation. After his release from prison, Bryant proceeded to leave the state and move to North Carolina, living with a woman and her two young girls, and failed to notify the sheriff of the relocation. Bryant was arrested and charged with failing to register as a sex offender. Bryant argued that the requirement violated the 5th Amendment because it failed to give him sufficient notice that he was required to register as a sex offender. The trial court ruled in favor of the state but the appellate court reversed, holding the statute was Unconstitutional as applied to out of state sexual offenders. 

    Issue.

    Whether if a defendant is given sufficient notice of the requirement that they register as a sex offender, a law holding them strictly liable if they do not register as sex offender violates the due process clause of the 5th Amendment?

    Held.

    No. If a defendant is given sufficient notice of the requirement that they must register as a sex offender, a law holding them strictly liable if they do not register as sex offender does not violate the due process clause of the 5th Amendment?

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    Legislatures have enacted laws requiring persons convicted of sex crimes to register as sex offenders, in response to the need of public safety. Under the North Carolina law, the prosecution is not required to show any mental culpability on the part of the defendant, but instead the defendant is strictly liable if they fail to register. Here, Bryant had a general knowledge of the registration requirement for sex offenders and had actual knowledge that he was to register and inform the sheriff if he was to relocate, and he failed to satisfy both requirements. Bryant’s actual knowledge that he was required to register as a sex offender and give notice if he were to relocate is sufficient to satisfy the due process requirement of the 5th Amendment.


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