Changing a law and criminalizing formerly legal conduct without providing notice of the change and without providing a reasonable period of time for the offending individual to comply with the change not only violates due process but is also manifestly unjust, especially given the scope and breadth of the collateral consequences that attach upon a felony conviction, such as the loss of the right to vote, to serve on a jury, or to receive certain benefits. With the far-reaching impact of a felony conviction on all areas of an individual's life, the maxim that "ignorance of the law excuses no one" is outdated. Under the contemporary lawmaking landscape, citizens cannot be aware of the numerous changes to the criminal code. With citizens being unable to know the criminal code, there is a need for greater reliance on the already-established exceptions to the maxim, thus providing vulnerable populations with a greater opportunity to avoid future contact with the law that will result not only in voting disenfranchisement but also in a denial of a host of other rights and privileges because of a felony conviction. This Article proceeds as follows. Part I discusses Missouri's current and prior felon-in-possession statutes. Part II presents Willie L. Williams's background and discusses when notice is provided in other legal contexts and why it should have been provided in this instance. Part III presents a policy recommendation to address such issues in the future.
S. David Mitchell, Notice(Ing) Ex-Offenders: A Case Study of the Manifest Injustice of Passively Violating A "Felon-in-Possession" Statute, 2015 Wis. L. Rev. 289 (2015)