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Utah to alter sex offender registry

Utah to alter sex offender registry


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Supreme Court has ruled that information about a sex offender's victim listed in an online directory should not include the victim's gender or age.

The justices said that part of a state law requiring certain information on a Department of Corrections Web site violates an offender's right to due process.

The court says the information implies the offenders are currently dangerous without providing a hearing for them to rebut the claims.

Friday's ruling stems from a 2005 criminal case involving Steven Arthur Briggs' refusal to register as a sex offender after he was released from prison in 2002. He was convicted of not registering and appealed by saying that the registration statute was unconstitutional.

The court upheld the conviction and the requirement to publish prior convictions, current address, appearance and other similar information. But the justices found fault in information listed under a "target" section in the sex offender registry.

"Even if the (Department of Corrections) derives the listed offender's primary target by reference to the offender's past victims, the label is troubling in that it implies that the offender is presently focused on repeating past crimes with similar victims," the court stated. "Anyone reading the registry would likely conclude that the offender's primary target is the DOC's prediction regarding the offender's next victim."

Briggs' profile lists "female" as the gender of his target victim and "juvenile" as the age classification.

A disclaimer on the registry says that posted information does not imply offenders will commit a crime in the future.

However, "it intimates that the offenders will commit some kind of crime in the future," the court said.

The Attorney General's Office and Briggs' lawyers have two weeks to file a petition for a rehearing in the case. If no appeals are filed, the ruling will be remitted back to the district court for enforcement.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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