Travel clarifications Part 4
Dear Janice and Chance:
My name is Bruce a.k.a. Atwo Zee, Registered Traveler. I am writing again, this time to offer clarifications to one of the questions about domestic travel that came up during your monthly ACSOL zoom meeting on December 17, 2022.
At that meeting there was no overview of domestic travel because Janice, who usually gives that overview, had some internet connectivity problems. However, during the question & answer period after Chance’s overview of international travel, someone asked as follows (paraphrasing): he said that now that he has got himself removed from California’s registry he would like to leave the state. He asked about state(s) where he might get a reasonable deal as a former registrant.
Chance, you correctly warned that every state has its own laws governing former registrants from other states. Some states will put you right back on their registry no matter how long you’ve been off California’s registry. You recommended that before moving to any other state one should consult with a qualified attorney in that state about the consequences of a former California registrant moving there.
I strongly agree with that, and I would like to say more on that subject. And as some of you may know, I have been researching the registries of the 50 states and 5 territories for several years now, so please let me offer a few insights.
My offense occurred in Florida, which has lifetime registry for every offense right down to public urination. True fact: you can leave or even die, but Florida never takes you off its registry. Two years ago I bought a summer home in Iowa, in part because I want to travel domestically and Florida is not very centrally located for that. Iowa, it turns out, is one of seven states that puts you on their registry either (a) for the amount of time they would require, or (b) for the amount of time required by your state of offense (Florida in my case), whichever is MORE. Therefore they put me on lifetime even though the time period for an in-state offense like mine would be ten years! The good news for me is that due to a quirk in Iowa law, I am allowed to apply to get off after 5 years. Yey! Of course, whether they will approve me is a separate question.
HOWEVER: So – if I get off Iowa’s registry I’m “free to go,” right?
WRONG! Yes I’ll be free to go – but ONLY in Iowa! As soon as I cross into another state – say, Illinois or Minnesota or Missouri – either as a visitor or if I move to that state – I am immediately subject to that state’s rules. Why? Because most states’ registry laws require you to comply and register < if you have EVER been convicted of a registrable offense in ANY state > – NOT if you are on or off the registry in any other state. So if I wanted to get myself off the registry in a second state – for example, Georgia – I would have to move to Georgia, get on their registry, and then follow their procedure to get off. If I were successful, then I’d be “free to go” in Georgia and Iowa, but every time I traveled back and forth between those states I’d have to follow the “visitor rules” for all the states in between – AND whenever I would travel anywhere else in this great land of ours I’d still have to follow all those state by state visitor rules.
On the Main Page of this site I have two charts, “State and Territorial Visitor Registration Law Guide” and “State and Territorial Visitor Registration Laws for FORMER and LONG-TERM registrants.” This second chart gives you state by state rules for if and how you can apply to get off each state and territory’s registry, including relevant statutory quotes and references. I created this chart because, as time passes and America’s registered population grows and ages, issues related to travel and interstate movement by former and long-term registrants will only grow.
As I said, most states registry laws require you to comply and register if you have EVER been convicted of a registrable offense in ANY state. However – there are a ten states whose registry laws say generally that any offender required to register in their state of offense is required to register in that state. Presumably this means that if you are NO LONGER required to register in your state of offense you would not be required to register in these states. These ten states are: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
However, I echo Chance’s recommendation that before moving to any other state one should consult with a qualified attorney in that state. I would also recommend calling that state’s SOR office to obtain a confirmation in writing that you would not have to register if you moved there.
California is one of the largest, most beautiful and varied states in the U.S. If you are fortunate enough to get off California’s registry and you are “free to go” in such a place, my advice is make the most of it and don’t leave. Consider this – if I do manage to get off Iowa’s registry that’s where I’ll have my freedom. Not that I haven’t come to love the Hawkeye State – I have – but it ain’t California!I hope this information is helpful.