United States v. Thayer

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amicus Curiae in Support of Defendant–Appellee Thomas P. Thayer.

Brief filed: 02/02/2022


United States v. Thayer

7th Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 21-2385


This appeal presents a straightforward legal question: Does the SORNA registration duty imposed on an “individual who was convicted of a sex offense,” U.S.C. § 20911(1), defined as “an offense against a minor that involves . . . [a]ny conduct that by its nature is a sex offense against a minor,” id. § 20911(7)(I), require a court to analyze the defendant’s predicate “offense” under the categorical approach to assess its “nature,” or should the court look to the particular facts underlying the defendant’s crime? Section 20911(7)(I) bears all the textual and structural signals requiring a categorical approach. And the government’s fact-specific approach raises significant constitutional and practical concerns. Because Thayer’s Minnesota conviction was for an offense sweeping more broadly than Section 20911(7)(I)’s definition of “sex offense,” Thayer had no duty to register, and the district court correctly dismissed the indictment.


Roy T. Englert, Jr., Donald Burke, Lee Turner Friedman, Jason A. Shaffer, Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck & Untereiner LLP, Washington, DC.

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