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United State of America v. Christopher Todd Walters

July 5, 2011

UNITED STATE OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHRISTOPHER TODD WALTERS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Melloy, Circuit Judge.

Submitted: February 16, 2011

Before LOKEN, MELLOY, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

Christopher Walters ("Walters") pleaded guilty to one count of failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). The district court sentenced him to thirty months' imprisonment, followed by ten years of supervised release. Walters appeals two conditions of his supervised release, which restrict him from consuming alcohol or entering bars or similar establishments and which prohibit him from contacting minors without the prior approval of the probation office. We reverse in part and affirm in part.

I.

On September 25, 2000, Walters was convicted in Iowa of sexual abuse in the third degree for sexually abusing his eleven-year-old mentally challenged stepsister. As a result of this conviction, Walters was required to register as a sex offender in Iowa until November 24, 2014. Walters, however, failed to update his registration after moving out of a hotel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on December 7, 2009. As a result, a grand jury indicted him on January 12, 2010, charging him with failing to register as a sex offender. Walters entered a plea of guilty on March 15, 2010.

On July 21, 2010, the district court conducted a sentencing hearing and sentenced Walters to thirty months' imprisonment after noting Walters had accumulated four prior state convictions for failing to register as a sex offender since his release from prison in 2005. The court further sentenced Walters to ten years of supervised release. As part of the special conditions of his supervised release, the district court ordered:

2) The defendant is prohibited from the use of alcohol and is prohibited from entering bars, taverns, or other establishments whose primary source of income is derived from the sale of alcohol. . .

4) The defendant shall have no contact with children under the age of 18 . . . without the prior written consent of the probation office. The U.S. Probation Office shall work with the defendant and the defendant's family to set up communications and visits with the defendant's biological and legally adopted children.

Walters objected to these two conditions at the sentencing hearing. In response, the district court explained that it was restricting Walters from contacting minors without prior approval, including Walters's own children, because: Walters had two prior sex offenses involving minors who were also family members*fn1 ; Walters had two negative incidents during his prior sex-offender treatment, namely an inconclusive polygraph examination and an instance of being caught viewing pornography; Walters had no aftercare following his prior sex-offender treatment; and Walters had a history of being a sexual abuse victim and has an impulsive personality. By contrast, the district court provided no explanation for why it unconditionally restricted Walters from consuming alcohol or entering drinking establishments. Walters now appeals.

II.

On appeal, Walters argues that the district court abused its discretion in imposing both of the challenged conditions because each condition is "overbroad" and in violation of the tailoring requirement contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d)(2). Walters also argues that the district court procedurally erred by failing to conduct an individualized inquiry into the facts and circumstances of his case and by failing to explain on the record why it was appropriate to completely prohibit him from consuming alcohol or entering drinking establishments. We agree in part, addressing each special condition in turn.

A district court possesses broad discretion when imposing conditions of supervised release, provided that each condition: "1) is reasonably related to the sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a); 2) involves no greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary for the purposes set forth in § 3553(a); and 3) is consistent with any pertinent policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission." United States v. Bender, 566 F.3d 748, 751 (8th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d). "A condition is reasonably related to the statutory factors if tailored to the nature and circumstances of the offense, the defendant's history and characteristics, the deterrence of criminal conduct, the protection of the public from further crimes of the defendant, and the defendant's educational, vocational, medicinal, or other correctional needs." United States v. Kelly, 625 F.3d 516, 519 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). "When crafting a special condition of supervised release, the district court must make an individualized inquiry into the facts and circumstances underlying a case and make sufficient findings on the record so as 'to ensure that the special condition satisfies the statutory requirements.'" United States v. Wiedower, ___ F.3d ___, No. 09-3192, 2011 WL 520839, at *2 (8th Cir. Feb. 16, 2011) (quoting United States v. Curry, 627 F.3d 312, 315 (8th Cir. 2010)). Finally, we review the terms and conditions of supervised ...


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