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MADISON - Yesterday, the Dane County Circuit Court, Judge Sarah O'Brien, presiding, issued a decision upholding the constitutionality of Wisconsin's sex offender registration statute, Wis. Stat. 301.45.
The defendant in this matter, Joseph M. Larue, is a registered sex offender. As a registered sex offender, Larue is required to register his home address with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registration Program. The State charged Larue with failing to keep an accurate address on file. In his defense, Larue claimed that he was homeless at the time of the alleged offense, and that his homeless status made the Sex Offender Registration statute unconstitutional as applied to him.
Judge O'Brien disagreed. She ruled that although the Sex Offender Registration statute may bear harder on homeless sex offenders, that effect is an unintentional consequence of the statute, and one that is backed by an important governmental purpose: protecting the public and helping law enforcement by keeping track of where sex offenders reside within the community.
"This decision validates the crucial importance of monitoring and tracking the whereabouts of sex offenders in the community," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office participated in the case along with the Dane County District Attorney's Office. "Although the effect of this decision is limited to this individual case, it serves as a strong affirmation of the Department's commitment to public safety," said Van Hollen.