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Federal Judges, Lawmakers Disagree on Ankle Monitoring for Non-Violent Offenders

Friday Oct 19th, on Criminal Defense Articles, Criminal Investigations |

After an arrest, the freedoms available to defendants are immediately curtailed. In many cases, offenders are imprisoned unless or until they make bail and are released under certain conditions such as returning to court for a trial and potentially engaging in specific behaviors or refraining from certain behaviors.  And, in other cases, defendants are required to wear ankle monitors.

These infringements on your liberty can be burdensome, which is why it is important you are represented by an Albany criminal defense lawyer who will fight for your rights. The infringements may also be a violation of the Constitution. In fact, The Chronicle recently reported that federal judges disagree regarding whether monitoring is appropriate as a condition of release after arrest.

Judges Disagree Over Ankle Monitoring for Non-Violent Offenders

The conflict arises over the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. The Act, which was signed into law during the George W. Bush era, expanded the role the federal government plays in cases of sex crimes involving minors.

The goal of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was to help protect children from abuse and exploitation, and to promote the safety of the Internet. However, it sets strict standards for the release of suspected offenders, which some believe infringes too much on the daily lives of those accused of wrongdoing.

The standards for release are inflexible, and, among the requirements imposed, certain offenders are required to wear ankle monitoring bracelets. Judges have lamented the fact that the strict standards don't give them the necessary discretion. Because electronic monitoring isn't optional, judges aren't given the ability to determine if monitoring is appropriate and defendants don't have the right to argue against monitoring by presenting evidence to suggest they aren't actually be presumed to be dangerous.

Some judges have challenged the standards and have even ordered ankle bracelets removed from certain offenders in contravention of the law, which has led to legal questions being raised about whether infringing this much on the daily lives of convicted offenders is permissible.

The question has reached several appeals courts, and federal judges have split on whether automatically requiring electronic monitoring of non-violent sex offenders is constitutional or not. Some federal judges have found that the required conditions of bail imposed by the Adam Walsh Act are a violation of due process and equal protection clauses, as well as a violation of the separation of powers doctrine that gives discretion to judges over court issues.

If the court determines it is not constitutional, just the electronic monitoring part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act is likely to be struck down while other provisions of the law will remain in effect.

Because of the severe consequences and long-lasting implications of accusations of sex offenses or crimes against children, those accused of these types of offenses should consult with an Albany criminal defense lawyer for help as soon as possible when they have been accused of wrongdoing.

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