Convicted sex offenders cannot use homelessness as an excuse for not reporting their whereabouts to police under Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry Act, a divided state Supreme Court ruled Monday.
Homelessness “in no way prevents (an) offender from physically entering a law enforcement agency and truthfully reporting … information regarding the offender’s residence,” the court found.
Randall Dowdy, who served 18 years in prison for kidnapping and rape, was charged in 2006 with failing to report his whereabouts and change of address after being forced to leave a Lansing shelter.
Michigan offenders are required to contact local law enforcement authorities every four months to provide or confirm a residential address.
The charges against Dowdy were dismissed by an Ingham County judge, who said the reporting requirements could not be applied to a sex offender who had no fixed address.
That decision was affirmed by the appeals court, but overruled Monday in a 4-3 decision.
Forming the majority was Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. and Justices Mary Beth Kelly, Stephen Markman and Brian Zahra.
Dissenting Justices Marilyn Kelly, Michael Cavanagh and Diane Hathaway said that it was improper to apply the requirements of the sex offender registry act to Dowdy because he did not have a residence or domicile as defined in the law.