In re R.B.
R.B. was sentenced as a Tier I juvenile sex offender for an offense committed when he was 14 and ordered to attend and complete a residential treatment program. Pursuant to Ohio law, R.B. was entitled to a completion of disposition hearing following the completion of his treatment in order to determine the effectiveness of the treatment, his risk of reoffending, and whether his registration should be terminated. The court failed to conduct R.B.'s completion of disposition hearing until almost four years after R.B. had completed all court ordered treatment. Due to the court's delay R.B.'s treatment providers were unavailable to testify at the hearing as to his treatment, progress, or future risk. The court subsequently ordered R.B. continue registration. By this time, R.B. had already attained the age of 21.
Juvenile Law Center joined Office of the Ohio Public Defender and other advocates on an amicus brief filed in the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of R.B. Amici argued that, in order to comply with fundamental fairness and a youth's due process rights, a juvenile sex offender registrant's classification cannot extend beyond the child's disposition when the juvenile court fails to conduct a juvenile registrant's end-of-disposition hearing at the time the juvenile completes treatment. Our brief further articulated that registering children into adulthood harms system-involved youth and does not increase public safety.
The Ohio Supreme Court held that the juvenile court does not lose jurisdiction to enter a classification order when a youth reaches the age of 21, and that the juvenile court did conduct R.B.’s completion-of-disposition hearing within a reasonable proximity of the date his disposition ended, which they defined as the date he turned 21. The Court declined to reach R.B.’s due-process argument, and remanded the case to the Ohio Court of Appeals for consideration of that issue.