Smith v. St. Louis County Police, et al., No. ED109734 (Mo. Ct. App. 2022)
Nature of Case: In 2005, the Appellant was charged with sexual misconduct in the first degree (defined as “purposely subjecting another person to sexual contact without that person’s consent”). Appellant pleaded guilty to the charge was was granted a suspended imposition of sentence and place on probation. As a result of his guilty plea, Appellant was required to register pursuant to the Missouri Sex Offender Registration Act (“MO-SORA”).
In 2021, Appellant filed a Petition for Removal from the Sex Offender Registry which requested that he be removed pursuant to Missouri state law because more than 10 years had passed since the date he was required to register and he had satisfied all applicable registration requirements as a “Tier 1” offender. The state objected, arguing solely that Appellant was not permitted to have his name removed from the registry because even though he is a tier 1 offender under MO-SORA, he is required to register under the separate requirements of the Federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”). As a result, the state argues that he must remain on the registry for his entire life given the interaction between the statutes.
The Circuit Court agreed with the state and denied Appellant’s request for removal from the registry.
Holding: The Missouri Court of Appeals, after reviewing SORNA, MO-SORA, and relevant Missouri case law interpreting the same, concluded (1) that Appellant has satisfied all requirements for removal from the registry pursuant to the relevant MO-SORA provisions, and (2) that the General Assembly did not intend for the provisions in MO-SORA to impose a lifetime registration obligation on tier I or tier II offenders under MO-SORA and SORNA who have served the required time on the registry and otherwise satisfied the requirements for removal. For those reasons, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the circuit court and remanded the case with directions to grant Appellant’s petition for removal from the registry.