State v. N.R., No. 119,796 (Kan. 2021)
Nature of Case: Appellant was convicted of a sex offense as a juvenile, and was thus required to register for life under Kansas’ sex offense registration scheme (KORA). Appellant was convicted at the trial court of failure to register under KORA, and appealed his conviction on several grounds. Specifically, Appellant alleged that KORA violated state and federal constitutional prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment as it related to juvenile offenses, that it violated constitutional provisions related to retroactive punishment, and that it constituted an illegal punishment as it was not a part of his criminal sentence.
Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed Appellant’s conviction. The Court held that KORA was non-punitive in the context of juvenile registration, and thus could not run afoul of constitutional prohibitions related to retroactive or cruel an unusual punishment. The Court further held that the sentencing court’s silence on KORA was immaterial, as KORA was an independent requirement of state law. Appellant petitioned for review challenging the panel’s constitutional findings.
Holding: The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the holding of the Court of Appeals, concluding that mandatory lifetime registration requirements as applied to Appellant are not punishment and, as a result, do not violate the federal Ex Post Facto Clause or the federal or state prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment.