It is well known that under Michigan law, registered sex offenders are barred from living near school safety zones. The notion behind the state’s law is to prevent sex offenders from living in close proximity to children, and to limit the exposure of children to suspected pedophiles since they tend to like playgrounds and other areas where kids play.
Indeed, the difficulties that former sex offenders experience in finding suitable housing because of limitations about where they can live have largely been ignored, especially by legislators because they appear to see the issue as a radioactive topic. After all, why would public figures stand up for such a politically unsavory group?
Even with the notion of preserving political capital, what if municipalities were taking additional steps to thwart offenders by improperly expanding the bandwidth of offender-free zones?
It’s not unheard of. In fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals recently invalidated a Michigan law that allowed tight restrictions to be imposed on sex offenders before it was properly passed. The court reasoned that it would amount to “public shaming” and “banishment.”
Indeed, concerned citizens want to protect their children from sexual predators, but broad regulations unfairly ensnare other types of offenders (i.e. those who are not seen or listed as dangerous threats) may be unduly affected.
So while there is one success story in the protection of sex offenders’ rights, the social stigma that goes with these crimes doesn’t go away so easily. If you have been charged with, or are under investigation for a sex crime, consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential in avoiding a lifelong sentence in the court of public opinion.