Madison (WKOW) -- from WI Dept. of Justice: Tuesday morning, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that the State of Wisconsin may require a convicted felon to register as a sex offender, even though his offense of conviction lacks a sexual element.
James Smith must register as a sex offender under Wis. Stat. § 301.45 because he has been convicted in Brown County Circuit Court of falsely imprisoning a child.
He argued in the court of appeals that requiring him to register violated his constitutional rights to substantive due process and equal protection-and that his conviction for not complying with the reporting requirement should be reversed-because he did not falsely imprison a child for sexual reasons, but rather to collect a drug debt.
The court of appeals disagreed, concluding that the registration statute has two purposes-public protection and assistance to law enforcement-and both are reasonably served by requiring Smith to register.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Wisconsin Department of Justice defended the constitutionality of the registration laws in the court of appeals. "Wisconsin's sex offender registry program allows law enforcement-and the public-to keep tabs on serious offenders," said Van Hollen. "Today's decision will better ensure public safety by helping us identify people who pose a threat to the safety of our children."
James Smith is currently incarcerated at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin.
He must comply with Wisconsin sex offender registration requirements until July of 2020.