People v Michael Diack
Kathy Manley, for appellant. Kenneth L. Gartner, for respondent. New York Civil Liberties Union, amicus curiae.
In 2006, Nassau County enacted Local Law No. 4–2006 (Local Law 4), which, as relevant here, prohibits registered sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of a school. In recent years, dozens of municipalities in this State have enacted similar laws that prohibit registered sex offenders from living within a certain distance of schools, daycare centers, parks, youth centers and other areas where children are likely to congregate.1 That such laws are proliferating at an accelerated rate is hardly surprising, given the significant interest involved, namely, the protection of children from sex offenders. Local governments have, understandably, relied on their police power in furthering that interest.
But a local government's police power is not absolute. When the State has created a comprehensive and detailed regulatory scheme with regard to the subject matter that the local law attempts to regulate, the local interest must yield to that of the State in regulating that field. We hold that the State's comprehensive and detailed statutory and regulatory framework for the identification, regulation and monitoring of registered sex offenders prohibits the enactment of a residency restriction law such as Local Law 4.
In 2001, defendant, a Nassau County resident, was convicted of the crime of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child (Penal Law § 263.11). He served 22 months in prison and, upon his release from custody, was classified a level one sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act (Correction Law art 6–C, § 168 et seq.). Defendant was discharged from parole on August 19, 2004. In July 2008, defendant reported his change of address to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Upon receiving this information, the Nassau County Police Department determined that defendant had moved to an apartment located within 500 feet of two schools.
Defendant was charged by information with a violation of Nassau County Local Law 4, which is codified in Nassau County Administrative Code § 8–130.6. That provision states, in relevant part, that “[i]t shall be unlawful for any registered sex offender to establish a residence or domicile where the property line of such residence or domicile lies within: (1) one thousand feet of the property line of a school; or (2) five hundred feet of the property line of a park ․” (Nassau County Administrative Code § 8–130.6[a],  ). The code defines a “registered sex offender” as “a person who has been classified as a Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender and who is required to register with the New York state division of criminal justice services, or other agency having jurisdiction,” pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act, regardless of whether the sex offender has actually registered (id . at § 8–230.2).
Defendant moved to dismiss the information on the ground that Local Law 4 and section 8–130.6 are preempted by state law. The District Court of Nassau County granted the motion and dismissed the charge on the ground that Local Law 4 is preempted by New York's “comprehensive statutory scheme for sex offenders.” The Appellate Term reversed and reinstated the information, holding that it could not discern any express or implied intention by the Legislature through the enactment of the Sex Offender Registration Act (and other state laws) to occupy the entire field so as to prohibit the enactment of local laws imposing “residency restrictions for sex offenders who are no longer on probation, parole supervision, subject to a conditional discharge or ․ seeking public assistance” (41 Misc.3d 36, 39 [App Term, 2d Dept, 9th and 10th Jud Dists 2013] ). A Judge of this Court granted defendant leave to appeal. ..Continued..
Courts: New York State Law Trumps Stricter Local Laws in Residency Requirements for Sex Offenders