INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a Hammond man removed from the state's sex offender registry after determining the law requiring him to register for life imposes an unconstitutional retroactive punishment.
Andre Gonzalez, 52, pleaded guilty to child solicitation in 1997 after seeking a sexual encounter with a 9-year-old Lake County girl, according to court records.
He served 18 months in prison, 18 months on probation and was required by a 1996 law to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
In 2006, the Republican-controlled General Assembly changed the sex offender registration law to require adult sex offenders who victimized children younger than 12 to register for life.
Gonzalez argued in his appeal to the state's high court that extending his registration period from 10 years to life was an additional retroactive punishment and prohibited by the "ex post facto" clause of the Indiana Constitution. Ex post facto is Latin for "after the fact."
In a 5-0 decision, the state Supreme Court agreed.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, weighed the punitive effects of lifetime registration and determined that as applied to Gonzalez's low-level felony conviction it is additional punishment and therefore unconstitutional.
Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who sought to keep Gonzalez on the sex offender rolls, is reviewing the court's decision, said spokesman Bryan Corbin.
Corbin said Zoeller expects to meet with state legislators to help draft an update to Indiana's sex offender registration law in the wake of several similar recent court rulings.