The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed a district court ruling that threw out charges against a Polk County man for violating the state law that restricts where sex offenders may live. Benjamin Groves was convicted of lascivious acts with a child in March of 1997. In January of 2006 Groves was charged with violating the state law that prohibits a convicted sex offender from living within two thousand feet of a school or a child care facility.
Groves filed a motion to dismiss the charge on several constitutional challenges. Groves did not present any witnesses on his behalf and the district court overruled all but one of Groves’ constitutional challenges.
The district court ruled Groves’ right to due process was violated as the law is a severe restriction his liberty rights to reside somewhere that meets basic 21st century living standards — including shelter from the elements with heat, electricity, sewer and running water.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled since Groves chose not to present any evidence in the district court regarding the impact the statute had on him, the court is unable to determine whether the statute precludes him from residing somewhere that meets basic 21st century living standards. The high court says it therefore must conclude Groves has failed to establish the statute does not rationally advance some legitimate government purpose.
The court reversed the decision and sent the case back to the district court for trial.