State v. Binarr – actual notice of change in the law is required

In State v. Binarr, decided May 12, 2012, the S.C. Supreme Court held that actual notice of a change in the sex offender registry requirements was required before a person could be convicted of failure to register.  In this case, Binarr was given written notice that the next date he had to register was in one year; but soon after the law was changed to require registration twice a year.

Testimony by a Sheriff’s Office detective that notice of the change in the law was mailed to all sex offenders in the county, and that the letter mailed to Binarr was not returned as undeliverable, was insufficient to prove actual notice.  A letter that was sent certified mail was returned as unclaimed.


Under the circumstances of this case, where failure to register carries a mandatory jail sentence of 90 days, the liberty interest at stake is substantial and due process requires actual notice as opposed to constructive notice.

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