Our agency, upon receiving additional information from citizens,* contacted the Fairfield County Sheriffs Sex Offender Unit in reference to the activities of Mr. Johnson. The Sex Offender Unit investigated a possible reporting violation and a judge signed an arrest warrant today. Soon after a warrant was signed, our officers arrested Mr. Johnson and turned him over to the Sheriffs Department.
*Sex Offender Information/Questions*
Our department has recently fielded several questions, and observed social media questions, related to Registered Sex Offenders and their legal requirements related to living in proximity to schools, frequenting public parks, etc.These questions are legitimate, and it is worth our time to fully understand what both the municipality and its citizens can and should do in the face of real and perceived threats to the safety and welfare of our children. We will attempt to answer some of these questions below:
State law provides for the prevention of sex offenders from residing in certain areas. The General Assembly first enacted sex offender residency restrictions effective July 31, 2003. At that time, the restrictions allowed for the prohibition of sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of any “school premises.” In July 2007, the General Assembly expanded the scope of the law to allow the prevention of sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of a preschool or child day-care center. Therefore, as a general matter under current law, the municipality may initiate legal proceedings to prevent a sex offender from residing within 1,000 feet of any school, preschool, or child day-care center.
As is often the case in legal matters, application of the general rule depends on the facts of a particular case. One issue that has received considerable attention from Ohio courts is whether the residency restrictions can be applied to offenders that committed their crimes before the date the statute went into effect. Ohio courts, including the Supreme Court of Ohio, have held that the residency restrictions do not apply to sex offenders that committed their offenses before the statute's effective date, which was July 31, 2003 for the school restriction and July 1, 2007 for the preschool and day-care restrictions. In the 2008 Ohio Supreme Court case Hyle v. Porter, the sex offender at issue was convicted of sex offenses in 1995 and 1999. Both offenses occurred several years before the General Assembly imposed residency restrictions on sex offenders. When local authorities sought to permanently prevent the offender from occupying his residence, which was within 1,000 feet of a school, the offender argued that the statute could not be applied to him. The Supreme Court of Ohio agreed and held that General Assembly failed to write the statute in a way that would make it apply retroactively.
Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Hyle v. Porter, other Ohio courts have concluded that the residency restriction cannot be applied retroactively, even when the offender did not reside at the location in question before July 31, 2003. For example, in the 2008 case Vandervoot v. Larson, the Fifth District Court of Appeals held that the statute cannot be applied retroactively even if an offender did not purchase or own his residence before the statute's effective date. In the Vandervoot case, an offender was convicted of a sex offense in 1994. In December 2004, after the residency restriction went into effect, the offender moved within 1,000 feet of a school. The Fifth District Court of Appeals held that the city of Lancaster could not use the residency-restriction statute to force the offender to move. Other Ohio courts have reached the same conclusion.
Furthermore, the issue of an offender residing in proximity to a school zone/daycare facility is a civil matter in Ohio; not a criminal matter; it is not a crime. Should a violation occur, a legal proceeding brought by a prosecutor to the court would have to civilly "evict" the person from the area. There is no restriction for a registered offender related to frequenting areas such as parks, shopping centers, rec centers, etc.
However, Registered Sex Offenders must still regularly register with the local Sheriffs Office.
Further information can be found by following the link https://sheriff.franklincountyohio.gov/services/sex-offender-registry/about.cfm
Should you feel that a registered sex offender is operating outside the requirement of law, please contact our agency or directly contact the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office Sexual Registration Deputy at 740-652-7250. Thank you.