July 14, 2013

NM law closes sex-offender loophole

7-14-2013 New Mexico:

Offenders moving to New Mexico must now register

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - For years, sex offenders who moved to New Mexico from elsewhere were somehow able to slip through the state's sex-offender registry.

It's a problem that stood out in a case that went all the way to the state Supreme Court earlier this year. But beginning Monday the loophole slams shut because of a new law taking effect July 1.

“Now it's clear that if you're a registrant in another state, you must register if you plan on moving to New Mexico,” Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said.

A bipartisan move in the Legislature toughened the state's sex offender registration laws, especially for sex offenders moving to New Mexico from another state.

“We’re about five years behind the times, but I think we're going to have one of the best statutes in the country," Maestas said. "It'll be a model.”

Starting Monday if a sex offender moves to New Mexico, they must register. Previously, they may not have had to depending on the crime.

It's been a hot topic ever since Bruce Hall moved to New Mexico from California where he was convicted of "annoying or molesting" a child and required to register as a sex offender. But that crime didn't technically exist in New Mexico.

In 2008, after moving to Las Cruces, he was arrested and convicted for not registering in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, but in the end the New Mexico Supreme Court decided against him.

“The primary intent is to protect children from sexual predators in New Mexico and California, correct?" Justice Patricio Serna asked in the decision.

Gov. Susana Martinez says preventing sex offenders like Hall from taking advantage of the system was a big part of the motivation for passing the new law.

“There was no sex offense that was similar to it, and therefore we were saying that he had to register, he was saying he didn't because there was nothing that matched up to it," Martinez said. "That's why the legislation took place."

In addition to closing the out-of-state loophole, the state has also changed the state's online sex offender registry to make it more interactive and user-friendly. ..Source.. by Cole Miller

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