The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a man’s convictions of failing to register as a sex offender, finding his argument “nonsensical” that his duty to register began before the statute was enacted.
In Jesse S. McCown v. State of Indiana, No. 79A05-0710-CR-556, Jesse McCown appealed his two counts of failure to register as a sex offender, a Class D felony.
McCown pleaded guilty in 1987 to child molesting and was sentenced to serve consecutive six- and two-year terms. In 1994, the General Assembly enacted Zachary’s Law, which required all convicted sex offenders to register if they had been convicted after the statute was enacted. A later amendment in 2001 required all convicted child molesters to register with local law enforcement.
McCown was in the Department of Correction until November 2001 on a forgery conviction. Upon his release, he provided his address to authorities. Just days later, he was arrested for a parole violation. Upon his release, he provided a different address. McCown was once again in prison in 2005 and provided his address to authorities upon release. Police discovered the address he gave was to an abandoned home.
McCown was charged with two counts of failure to register as a sex offender, failure to possess proper identification, and being a habitual offender. He filed a motion to dismiss the charges, which the trial court denied. He was found guilty on the failure to register counts and was sentenced to an aggregate term of four-and-a-half years, including his half-year sentence for being a habitual offender.
McCown argued that he shouldn’t have to register as a sex offender because his 10-year duty is expired. He believed his start date for registration was May 1, 1994, which would mean he would no longer have to register after May 1, 2004. As a result, he shouldn’t have been arrested in 2005.
But the Indiana Court of Appeals didn’t agree with McCown’s argument, finding it to be “nonsensical” because it suggests his 10-year registration period began before the duty to register was even imposed, wrote Judge Carr Darden.
“Simply stated, statutory amendments made effective on July 1, 2001, rendered the registration requirement applicable to McCown,” he wrote. “Because McCown was incarcerated in a penal facility on the effective date of the statute, his ten-year duty to register was triggered upon his release therefrom and subsequent placement on probation on November 10, 2001.”
The appellate court also remanded for proper enhancement of the habitual-offender charge because as it included in a footnote, “In light of the following holding by our supreme court, the trial court’s imposition of a separate sentence on count IV, the habitual offender count, is error.”