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Adam Walsh Act


On July 27, 2006, President Bush signed into law a bill known as the Adam Walsh Act.  States must comply with this federal legislation by July 27, 2009, or risk losing 10% of a federal law enforcement grant.  The Ohio General Assembly chose to implement the Adam Walsh Act this year, and passed Senate Bill 10 and Senate Bill 97 in an effort to comply with the federal legislation.

New tier structure

The Adam Walsh Act and Ohio Senate Bill 10 organize sex offender classification into three Tiers.  Classification is based solely on the offense of conviction; a person’s likelihood to reoffend will no longer be considered. Registration and verification duties:

Tier I: registration duties last 15 years for adults, 10 years for juveniles; in-person verification at the county sheriff’s office is required annually.

Tier II: registration duties last 25 years for adults, 20 years for juveniles; in-person verification is required every 180 days.

Tier III: registration duties last a lifetime for adults and for juveniles; in-person verification is required every 90 days. Click here for a chart of which Ohio offenses fall into which Tier. 

Sample Motions

These forms are provided to help you file pleadings in your case without the assistance of a lawyer.  You can print these forms, fill in the blanks, and file them with the court.  Be sure to carefully read and follow the instructions.  If possible, please consult with an attorney about your case.

Petition to Contest Reclassification: File this motion within 60 days of the day you received your Notice of New Classification from the Ohio Attorney General, if you want to contest your reclassification.  Use this form if you were convicted as an adult in common pleas court. (Click here for a Rich Text Format version)

Motion for Relief from Community Notification: If you were previously labeled a sexually oriented offender or a habitual sex offender and were not subject to community notification, and you have now been reclassified a Tier III offender with a community notification requirement, you can file this motion to ask the court to relieve you of the new community notification requirement. (Click here for a Rich Text Format version)

Petition to Contest Reclassification for Juvenile Offender Registrants: File this motion within 60 days of the day you received your Notice of New Classification from the Ohio Attorney General, if you want to contest your reclassification.  Use this form if you were adjudicated as a juvenile in juvenile court.

Testimony offered by the Office of the Ohio Public Defender

The Office of the Ohio Public Defender testified several times in opposition to this legislation as it moved through the state legislature.  OPD’s opposition focused primarily on two points: retroactivity and juvenile offenders.  Click below to read the testimony offered by OPD:

Federal Guidelines for Implementation

In January 2009, the SMART Office informed the State of Ohio that it is not in substantial compliance with the requirements of the federal Adam Walsh Act. Click here to read the letter.

In February 2009, the Office of the Ohio Public Defender and 18 other organizations and individuals sent a letter to Ohio’s governor and attorney general, urging Ohio to seek a one-year extension for compliance with the federal Act, rather than rush to comply by the July 27, 2009 deadline. Click here to read the letter.

In May 2007, the U.S. Attorney General’s office issued Proposed Guidelines for the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act.  The guidelines were open for public comment through August 1, 2007.  The Office of the Ohio Public Defender submitted comments regarding retroactivity, juveniles, and substantial compliance.  OPD also signed onto comment submitted by the Juvenile Justice Initiative of Voices for Ohio’s Children.

Additional information

On June 29, 2007, the Ohio Attorney General sent letters to approximately 200 people whose 10-year registration duties were set to expire during the month of July 2007.  This letter informed people that, due to SB 10, their registration duties may not actually expire as previously scheduled.  Click here to read a copy of the letter.  

The Ohio Attorney General has prepared forms that are to be given to persons convicted or adjudicated of eligible offenses between July 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007, informing them of their duties to register as of January 1, 2008.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office has prepared a summary of what Ohio’s juvenile sex offender registration system (JSORN) looks like, after January 1, 2008.  Click here to read this summary.

OPD prepared this one-page (front & back) handout that briefly summarizes the impact SB 10 will have on juveniles.  This may be a helpful introduction to the Adam Walsh Act for children, parents, treatment providers, and other non-lawyers impacted by SB 10. 

Other Resources

News Articles

Complying with Walsh Act costs Ohio $10 million

(Youngstown Vindicator © 11/13/2011)

Four years ago, Ohio became the first state to comply with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (AWA) which mandated a more comprehensive, nationwide system to track sex offenders. The intent of the AWA was to standardize sex offender laws across the country.

Reclassifying sex offenders sends courts into chaos

(Dayton Daily News © 7/21/2010)

The second reclassification of sex offenders in two years is forcing prosecutors and judges statewide to spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to resolve the resulting fiasco.

Sex offenders win human rights claim

(The Independent © 12/19/2008)

Two convicted sex offenders today won groundbreaking rulings that their "indefinite" registration on the sex offenders register with no right of review is "incompatible" with their human rights.

Sex-offender registries across U.S. 'inconsistent'

(The Columbus Dispatch © 12/16/2008)

WASHINGTON -- Sex-offender registries are often inaccurate and incomplete, undermining public knowledge about some of the nation's most reviled criminals, Justice Department investigators warn.

Ruling doesn’t end challenges of sex offender classifications

( © 10/12/2008)

The recent decision upholding retroactive application of Megan's Law reclassification of those convicted of sex offenses does not cancel court challenges of cases involving the Adam Walsh Act.

"In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying"

Bertrand Russell

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