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Judges reverse, reinstate sex-offender conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a man’s conviction of failing to register as a sex offender based on a lack of evidence showing the man had a connection to Indiana 90 days after his last registration. The appellate court did reinstate a vacated conviction for failing to notify law enforcement of his move within 72 hours.

Michael E. Johnson appealed his Class C felony conviction of failing to register as a sex offender, which was enhanced because of a prior conviction. As a sexually violent predator, he was required to register with law enforcement and have his picture taken every 90 days, and let officials know of changes in his address within 72 hours of moving.

In October 2008, Johnson reported in person to change his address; the next month he moved out of state without informing law enforcement. He was arrested several months later when he was visiting a friend in Indianapolis. He was charged with and found guilty on three counts: failing to update registration every 90 days; failing to update his address within 72 hours; and failing to reside at the address he registered. The trial court only entered a judgment of conviction on the first count.

In Michael E. Johnson v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0909-CR-908, the appellate court ruled the evidence doesn’t support Johnson’s conviction of failing to update his registration every 90 days. Based on Indiana Code, Johnson was only required to register 90 days after October 2008 if he was living in, working in, or going to school in Indiana, which the state didn’t prove.

But the appellate court reinstated Johnson’s conviction based on Count II because he didn’t notify officials of his change of address within 72 hours. Even though Indiana Code Section 11-8-8-11 doesn’t expressly say that a sex offender has to let law enforcement know of a change in address when he moves out of state, subsection (e) requires local law enforcement to notify the state police in the new state of the sex offender’s new place of residence.

“The only way to read the statute as a whole and avoid an absurd result is to read it to require that the sex offender notify the local law enforcement authority having jurisdiction over the sex offender at his current principal address of his move out of state and his new address,” wrote Judge Edward Najam. “Only then can the local law enforcement authority comply with subsection (e) and notify the state police in the new state.”

The appellate court remanded for the conviction on Count II to be reinstated and for Johnson to be sentenced accordingly with any credit given for time served on the vacated conviction based on Count I.

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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