State v. Hubbard, Nos. 2020-0544 and 2020-0625 (Ohio 2021)
Nature of Case: In a discretionary appeal from a judgment of the Twelfth District Court of Appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court considered whether the retroactive application of “Sierah’s Law” violates the Retroactivity Clause of Article II, Section 28 of the Ohio Constitution.
Sierah’s Law, which went into effect on March 20, 2019, presumptively requires offenders who are convicted of, or plead guilty to, aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, or second-degree felony abduction, or an attempt to commit, conspiracy to commit, or complicity in committing any of those offenses, to enroll in Ohio’s “Violent Offender Database” for a period of ten years. The Appellant in this case pled guilty to murder with a firearm on March 7, 2019, before Sierah’s Law became effective. After his plea but before sentencing, Appellant was informed that he would be required to register. Appellant objected, asserting that Sierah’s Law violated the Ohio Constitution’s Retroactivity Clause.
The Twelfth District Court of Appeals affirmed Hubbard’s conviction and sentence, determining that Sierah’s law does not affect a substantive right because it does not retroactively increase punishment. In so holding, the Twelfth District certified that its judgment conflicts with the judgment of the Fifth District in State v. Jarvis, 2020-Ohio-1127, 152 N.E. 3d 1225 (5th Dist.). The Supreme Court of Ohio determined that a conflict existed between the judgments and agreed to address whether the retroactive application of Sierah’s Law violates the Ohio Constitution.
Holding: In a split decision, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that imposing the registration requirement in Sierah’s Law retroactively is not an additional punishment or such a burden that it can be considered a violation of the Ohio Constitution. In so holding, the Court compared the registration requirements of the Violent Offender Database to Ohio’s sex-offender-registration laws.