Governor M. Jodi Rell today in a ceremony signed a bill that toughens the state’s law dealing with sex offenders. The governor signed into law House Bill 5033, An Act Concerning Sexual Offender Name Changes.
There is currently no provision in the law that prohibits name changes by sexual offenders. There is only a requirement that they report the change.
“This legislation, which I introduced in February, closes a big loophole in our sex offender laws,” Governor Rell said. “By changing their identities, sexual offenders can avoid detection by authorities and continue to commit crimes that usually claim the most vulnerable in our society. We are now barring offenders from legally changing their names to escape police attention or to avoid registration.
“This is a simple, common-sense fix to our law that will eliminate the possibility of a registered offender using legal means to remain anonymous. Connecticut residents deserve to have every bit of information that is available to them on sex offenders. This new law provides heightened protection to all of Connecticut’s residents and requires increased accountability for offenders.”
The new law prohibits Superior or Probate courts from allowing anyone who is required to register as a sex offender from changing his or her name unless they notify the commissioner of public safety and provide a sworn statement of intent. The applicant must state that the name change is not being sought to avoid the legal consequences of a criminal conviction, including registration as a sex offender. In addition, sex offenders must include in their notice the new name being sought.
The bill gives the commissioner of public safety standing to challenge the application in the court where the name change is being sought. The court may deny the application if it finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the applicant is seeking the name change to avoid the legal consequences of a criminal conviction.
The current law, unchanged by the bill, requires people required to register as sex offenders to notify the commissioner of any name change in writing and without undue delay. It also requires the clerk of any court to notify the commissioner whenever the court orders a name change for a person required to register.
By law, anyone convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of a criminal offense against a minor, nonviolent sexual offense, sexually violent offense, or felony committed for a sexual purpose must register as a sex offender with the Department of Public Safety.