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Court rules on long-term state tracking for sex crimes offenders

Sex offender registry laws can be the source of controversy, especially where tracking requirements are concerned. One organization, the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws, has spent time challenging the ankle tracking devices that those convicted of sex crimes have previously been required to wear. The issue of whether this is constitutional or not was recently addressed by a North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the decision may have an impact on those tried for sex crimes in the future.

The issue of ankle monitoring was first brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. The result of that case, Grady v. North Carolina, clarified that wearing a GPS monitor is considered a "search" under the U.S. Constitution. It was therefore subject to the standards required for a search under the law, which meant the state had to prove it was reasonable. 

In the subsequent case, Griffin v. North Carolina, advocates argued that there was no empirical evidence showing this "search" was reasonable. The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of this argument, declaring that law enforcement cannot require offenders to wear tracking devices for decades following their convictions. The National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws is also advocating for a more sophisticated registry for offenders.

Currently, there are is no individual assessment of people and specific cases in the North Carolina sex offender registry. While long-term GPS monitoring is no longer a consequence of conviction in sex crimes, there are still many consequences that could have long lasting impacts. Anyone accused of such a crime should speak to an attorney immediately to understand their defense options.

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