Recently the Ohio Supreme Court in the case of Hyle v. Porter, determined that Ohio’s law prohibits sex offenders from living near a school. In 2003 Ohio’s General Assembly imposed residency restrictions on certain sexually oriented offenders living within 1,000 feet from a school. (R.C. §2950.031 later re-codified as R.C. §2950.034).
The Ohio Supreme Court considered whether the residency restriction prohibiting certain sexually oriented offenders from living 1,000 feet from a school could be applied to an offender who bought his home and committed the offense prior to the effective date of the statute (July 31, 2003). In the case, Gerry R. Porter, Jr. was convicted of sexual imposition in 1995 and sexual battery in 1999. After the enactment of the 1,000-foot limitation, the Chief Legal Officer of Green Township initiated an action against Porter seeking to remove him from his current residence which was within 1,000 feet of a school. Porter and his wife had owned and lived in the house since 1991, prior to the legislature taking action in 2003.
The Court of Common Pleas in Hamilton County permanently enjoined Porter from occupying his home due to the sex offender 1,000 foot residency restriction. This decision was affirmed on appeal by the 1st District Court of Appeals. However, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed the injunction and found that Ohio statute could not be applied retroactively. The Ohio Supreme Court relied upon the fact that the longstanding law of Ohio provides that: “A statute is presumed to be prospective in its operation unless expressly made retrospective.” The Ohio Supreme Court found that there was no evidence in the statute that the legislature intended the act to be applied retrospectively, and as such, the Court was bound to apply in a prospective manner. As such, the Court concluded that the sex offender 1,000-foot limitation law could not be applied to Porter. The Supreme Court held that the limitation did not apply to an offender “. . . who bought his home and committed his offense before the effective date of the statute.” At this time, it is unclear as to whether or not the law will apply to those individuals who have bought their home before the effective date of the statute and are subsequently convicted of an offense after the effective date.
The affect of the decision requires Ohioan’s to keep a watchful eye on sexual offenders, as they can not simply assume that sexual offenders will not be present within the 1,000-foot limitation.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.