Appeals Court Rejects Army Vet's Attempt to Stay off Maryland Sex Offender Registry

Appeals Court Rejects Army Vet's Attempt to Stay off Maryland Sex Offender Registry

A Maryland appeals court recently rejected an attempt by an Army veteran to avoid registering with the Maryland Sex Offender Registry.

The man, a sergeant in the United States Army, was convicted under military law of two counts of abusive sexual contact involving a 17-year-old girl while he was stationed in Texas. He was ordered to a reduction in grade, confinement and forfeiture of all pay and allowances for five months. Upon his release, he was required to register as a sex offender for life.

In July 2015, the Texas Department of Public Safety sent a “Notice of Intent to Relocate” to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services because of the man’s intention to move to Maryland. Maryland state law requires that a sex offender who comes to Maryland to live and who is required to register as a sex offender by another jurisdiction must register with the Maryland Sex Offender Registry.

The Maryland DPSCS determined that the man’s military conviction was equivalent to a fourth-degree sex offense under Maryland’s criminal law and ordered him to register as a Tier 1 registrant for 15 years. The man moved to Howard County and registered on July 28, 2015.

However, in a legal filing in the Circuit Court for Howard County, the man disputed that his military conviction is equivalent to a fourth-degree sex offense under Section 3-308 of Maryland’s Criminal Law Article and asked the court to declare that he should not be required to register. He argued that the military statute under which he was convicted includes consensual sexual contact, while Maryland law requires the touching to be non-consensual.

In response, DPSCS filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the conviction, if committed in Maryland, would constitute a fourth-degree sexual offense. The department also said that no hearing was needed because the facts regarding the military offense were not in dispute. To win on a motion for summary judgment, the material facts of the case must not be in dispute. The Circuit Court for Howard County agreed with DPSCS and granted the department’s motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision. The Court of Special Appeals said the man was convicted of causing his victim “bodily harm,” that necessarily means the touching was non-consensual. As a result, the court said, the touching under military law was similar to that required under Maryland law for sex offenses.

The court also upheld the lower court’s decision not to hold a hearing, explaining that due process was sufficient if, at some stage, there was an opportunity to be heard suitable to the occasion and an opportunity for judicial review. The court also noted that the government has a “strong interest in ensuring that those who are required to register do so as quickly as possible after moving into the state.” The court also said that requiring DPSCS to delay every registration until after a judicial proceeding would create an undue delay for those individuals for whom it was necessary to register as a sex offender in Maryland.

If you have been charged with a sex crime in Maryland or required to register for the Maryland Sex Offender Registry, you should talk to a Maryland criminal defense attorney. A Baltimore sex crimes lawyer can go over your options. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience handling these cases. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.934.3007 or via our website for a free consultation.