There has been a lot of federal appellate court action in relation to SORNA lately (I'll be covering the 8th Circuit's notable Howell opinion later today). Normally, the cases go in favor the government. However, when the defendant wins at the district court level, the basis is usually the lack of federal jurisdiction or an Ex Post Facto Clause issue. The 11th Circuit, in a split decision, in U.S. v. Dodge, issued an opinion in favor of the defendant that I can't make much sense of. From the opinion:
I apologize for the long block quote, but I wanted to give a fair sampling of the opinion since I am critical of it. I don't know how the 11th Circuit can say it is not deciding the categorical approach issue if it doesn't evaluate the specifics of the crime to determine if it is a "sex offense against a minor." In Byun (which is the proper spelling according to my records) the 9th Circuit case cited by the 11th Circuit as Byum, the court determined a person convicted of the importation of a person for prostitution should have the registration obligations evaluated on a non-categorical basis. Based upon the facts of that case, the crime was considered to be against a minor because juveniles were involved. In deciding this case, the 11th Circuit seems to have adopted a categorical approach without explicitly stating so.
Even beyond that initial decision, I'm not sure I follow the court's reasoning that the defendant's acts would not be a crime against a minor. Most of the attempted federal sex crimes cases these days involve stings where there is no "real" child involved. Yet, I would be amazed if persons convicted of those crimes were not intended to be subject to the registration requirements of SORNA. I think the dissent has the much better argument in this case:
This case seems like a good candidate for en banc rehearing. The 11th Circuit needs to take a clearer stance on whether it is taking a categorical approach to crimes under SORNA and it needs to clean up the reasoning of the panel decision.