In a published opinion, In re TD, the Court of Appeals held that application of SORA was not "punishment," so it could not be deemed unconstitutional on grounds that it was cruel and unusual as applied to the respondent.
The respondent was convicted of CSC II at the age of 15 and was subject to registration requirements of SORA. When he reached 18, he petitioned the trial court for relief from SORA's registration requirements. The trial court recognized that the statute did not provide an exemption for his listed offense, but granted respondent's requested relief anyway, finding that SORA, as applied to the juvenile, was cruel and unusual punishment.
The Court of Appeals reversed. The Court concluded that SORA was not "punishment" and thus, could not be cruel and unusual punishment. Consequently, the the statute was constitutional as applied to respondent.
In a well-written concurrence, recent judicial appointee, Judge Amy Krause, raised some valid concerns with application of SORA to juvenile offenses. Judge Krause opined that "the critical problem is simply that registering people who are demonstrably not dangerous makes it more difficult conceptually to regard SORA as the non-punishment tool it should be."
Fortunately, new legislation addresses some of these concerns by providing that no juvenile offenders will be listed on the public registry. The changes also remove reporting requirements for certain offenses depending on the ages of the parties involved. While these changes do not eradicate every concern related to application of SORA to juveniles, it is a good starting point.