By Lewis Tesser and Timothy Nolen
A recent opinion from the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, highlights how legislative intent can shape the interpretation of criminal and civil laws. The case concerned issues of criminal law, criminal procedure, administrative law, statutory interpretation and constitutional law.
The case, Matter of Dewine v. State of New York Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders, 2011 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 6627 (4th Dept, September 30, 2011), involved a man who had been convicted of a sex offense in Wyoming and later moved to New York. When the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) was passed in the 1990s, the petitioner was on probation in Wyoming. SORA required anyone who was on probation for a sex offense to register in New York. In the Article 78 proceeding, the petitioner argued that he should not have to register as a sex offender because he was not on probation in New York when SORA was passed and because his probation had expired before he moved to New York. The Court, however, rejected this argument, noting that the legislature had intended SORA to apply to all individuals on parole, not just those on parole within New York State. Because requiring out-of-state probationers to register would be consistent with the statute’s purpose, the Court required the petitioner to register.
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