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State v. Meador

July 13, 2010

STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLEE
v.
DAVID LYNN MEADOR, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT



Appeal from the District Court of Barnes County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable Richard W. Grosz, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maring, Justice.

AFFIRMED.

[¶1] David Meador appeals from a criminal judgment entered after a jury found him guilty of failing to comply with sexual offender registration requirements. Meador argues the sexual offender registration statute was unconstitutionally applied ex post facto and the district court erred in interpreting the registration time requirements. We affirm.

I.

[¶2] In 1994, Meador was convicted of sex-related crimes in Kentucky. On August 9, 2008, Meador registered as a sexual offender with the Valley City Police Department and gave the address of a gas station parking lot in Valley City as his residence. At the time Meador was living in a camper attached to his vehicle. On August 14, 2008, law enforcement officers told Meador he was no longer allowed to stay in the gas station parking lot.

[¶3] On August 15, 2008, Meador went to a city park, but law enforcement officers told him he had to leave because camping was not allowed in the park. Meador stayed in his camper parked on a street that night. Over the next few nights Meador stayed in various locations, including in a state park on August 18 and 19, 2008. On August 20, 2008, Meador filed a change of registration information form, notifying law enforcement that he planned to move to Tower City in Cass County. On August 22, 2008, Meador registered as a sexual offender with the Cass County Sheriff's Office and gave a Tower City address as his residence.

[¶4] On August 20, 2008, Meador was charged with failing to comply with sexual offender registration requirements in violation of N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-15, a class C felony. In January 2009, Meador moved to dismiss, arguing the information lacked an essential element of the offense because the information did not allege he moved to a new address and intentionally did not register with law enforcement. The district court denied his motion. A jury trial was held in August 2009, and Meador was found guilty.

[¶5] In September 2009, Meador moved to dismiss, arguing N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-15 was applied retroactively and is unconstitutional under the ex post facto clauses of the North Dakota and United States Constitutions. The court denied his motion. A criminal judgment was entered in March 2010.

II.

[¶6] Meador argues the sexual offender registration statute, N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-15, violated his right to be free from ex post facto laws because it was retrospectively applied to his 1994 conviction. Meador contends the 1995 amendment to N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-15(3), requiring individuals to register if they have a conviction after July 1985, is punitive and retroactive, and therefore the statute is an ex post facto law and violates the federal and state constitutions.

[¶7] Whether a statute is unconstitutional is a question of law, which is fully reviewable on appeal. State v. Burr, 1999 ND 143, ¶ 9, 598 N.W.2d 147. The United States and North Dakota Constitutions prohibit ex post facto laws. See U.S. Const. art I, § 10; N.D. Const. art. I, § 18. An ex post facto law is:

1. Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense, in order to convict the offender.

Burr, at ¶ 10 (quoting State v. Jensen, 333 N.W.2d 686, 693-94 (N.D. 1983)). However, "[a] law imposing a collateral consequence of a conviction may be applied retroactively if the purpose is not to punish the offender but to protect some other legitimate interest." Burr, at ¶ 11.

[¶8] In Burr, 1999 ND 143, 598 N.W.2d 147, a majority of this Court held the sexual offender registration statute, N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-15, does not violate the federal or state constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws because the law is remedial and non-punitive. The Court held the registration requirement is regulatory in nature and aids law enforcement agencies by requiring sexual offenders to register with local law enforcement and notify them when they move. Id. at ¶ 36. A majority of the Court also held the purpose of the law is to protect a legitimate public interest, which imposes a collateral consequence upon conviction and not additional punishment. Id. The United States Supreme ...


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