Sex offenders now barred from name changes
Lt. Gov. Aiona acts after learning three convicts had tried to bypass the registry
After noticing that three convicted Hawaii sex offenders had tried to change their names, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona successfully moved to forbid sex offenders from getting a name change.
Aiona said he was able to block the three sex offenders from changing their names, but he worries about others succeeding.
Gov. Linda Lingle signed the measure into law before she left for the mainland, and acting Gov. Aiona called a news conference on the new law that prevents anyone on the sex offender registry or who is registered for having committed crimes against minors from getting a name change from his office.
A name change would confuse or defeat the online sex offender registry, which citizens can check to see if there is a sex offender in their neighborhood.
About 1,000 name changes are processed every year by the Lieutenant Governor's Office, Aiona said.
Sex offenders could be changing their names "to hide from the law or avoid their obligation under the law," Aiona said.
Aiona acknowledged the new law relies on those filing for a name change to tell the truth.
Applicants must provide a notarized statement about the truth of their statements, but not all applications are checked, Aiona said.
Under the old name-change law, applicants were required to report any felony convictions. Aiona said his office was not able to screen all applicants to make sure that all felony convictions were disclosed.
"The practice is to check as time allows. We don't check every single application that comes in. We are hoping people will be honest about it," Aiona said.
Aiona said he could not tell whether sex offenders might have changed their names without disclosing any felony convictions.
"I would say that now we have a system in place that should not alarm anyone," Aiona said.