Court Judge James Mahan’s decision to enjoin Nevada’s enactment of Adam
Walsh Act, AB579, but upheld the injunction against a movement and
residency restriction law, SB471. The Ninth Circuit also denied the
Attorney General’s attempt to appeal the district court’s award of
over $140,000 in attorney’s fees to the ACLU.
The ruling on the residency and movement law is a victory. The Ninth
Circuit’s opinion points out that the Attorney General kept changing
its position. It essentially directs the Attorney General to do what
the lawyer asked the Attorney General to do in July of 2008 — formally
agree that laws prohibiting offenders from living in certain locations
and limiting their movement should not be applied retroactively.
While SB471 should never have been applied retroactively (as the
Attorney General’s office just finally definitively admitted after
years of expensive litigation), Parole and Probation officers told
plaintiffs that they would have to move, and would be prohibited from
going to certain places. Some plaintiffs would have had to move;
others would have lost their jobs because the movement restrictions
meant they couldn’t even get there.
While the lawyers are pleased that people finally have clarity as to
whether SB471 applies to them, they are disappointed in today’s result
as to AB579. Attorneys for plaintiffs are weighing their options. “The
fight isn’t over,” they are saying. Many attorneys are looking at the
next steps they should take on behalf of their clients and are
consulting with the ACLU.
AB579 reclassifies sex offenders based only on their conviction, and
requires offenders to register and can subject them to intensive
notification. It applies to people who committed sexual offenses as
far back as 1956, even if they have not committed any offenses since —
and even if the State of Nevada determined that the person poses no
public safety danger.
While one problem with the law is that it is unclear how Nevada will
even figure out whom the law applies to, it is clear that numerous
people will be affected. In 2008, it was estimated that the number of
“Tier 3” offenders, who are supposed to be the worst of the worst,
would jump from about 100 to over 2,000. The increased number of
registered sex offenders that will result from AB579 creates a needle
in the haystack problem for the public and for Parole and Probation,
who won’t likely have the resources to track all the people who will
And, not only will the law not promote public safety, it will also
cost significant sums of money to enforce — money the State could be
spending on other things. The cost for states for enforcing Adam Walsh
Act laws far exceeds the small amount of federal funding they get.
[Bottom lines]: “AB579 will cost taxpayers millions without increasing
public safety,” and “While it may be politically difficult, I hope the
Nevada Legislature does the right thing and just gets rid of AB579.”
Without AB579, Nevada would still have sex offender laws on the books
— laws that are based on risk assessments and which actually protect
the public far better than AB579.
I presently have a client that was convicted of a sexual offense in
California in 1977. It was so long ago that we are having trouble
finding it. He did NOT need to register in Calif. He moved to NV in
1998, however, and dutifully registered. When the injunction was
removed, because he was convicted of a felony, he was raised to Tier
2, which means that he must now remain on the registry for 25 years
instead of 15 years.
According to the individual that maintains the Sex Offender registry,
though the offense took place in 1977, approximately 36 years ago, and
he was not required to register in Calif., he now comes under a
different law. Since the law changed, he is now a Tier 2 offender and
must remain on the registry for 25 years. IF he had to register in
California and would have done so, he could get off right now. But,
since that wasn’t the case and he did not, he must now remain on the
registry until 2023. There is something very wrong with this.
Mace J. Yampolsky is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, 625
South Sixth St., Las Vegas, NV 89101; He can be reached at: Phone
702-385-9777 or fax 702-385-300. His website is located at: