from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central
Judicial District, the Honorable James S. Hill, Judge.
A. Lawyer, Burleigh County State's Attorney, Bismarck,
North Dakota, for plaintiff and appellee; submitted on brief.
Russell J. Myhre, Enderlin, North Dakota, for defendant and
appellant; submitted on brief.
Spencer Norton appeals from a judgment entered after the
district court denied his motion to dismiss and accepted his
conditional guilty plea to the charge of failure to register
as an offender against children. We conclude N.D.C.C. §
12.1-32-15(3) imposed a statutory duty on Norton to register,
and we affirm.
In May 2018, while Norton was in custody on unrelated
charges, the State charged him with willfully failing to
register as an offender against children from June 28, 2017,
through May 21, 2018. The charge against Norton was based on
his February 1997 convictions in North Carolina for abduction
of a child and second degree kidnapping. Norton moved to
dismiss the charge, arguing the State could not prove he was
required to register and the complaint was premature. Norton
contended he was fifteen years old at the time of the North
Carolina convictions, he was never ordered to register by a
North Carolina court, and the North Carolina judge never
stated a registration requirement on the record. He claimed
the State must prove his sentence complied with due process
by personally advising him of the registration requirement.
He also contended the complaint was premature, because he had
been continually incarcerated since November 7, 2017, and
could not go to the Bismarck Police Department to register in
The State responded that Norton was required to register
under N.D.C.C. §§ 12.1-32-15(1)(a) and
12.1-32-15(3), that inmates are afforded the opportunity to
register during their incarceration, and that impossibility
is not a valid defense because he never tried to register and
he told officers he refused to register.
The district court denied Norton's motion to dismiss,
citing N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-15(3) for registration
requirements when a court has not previously ordered an
individual to register in this state. The court explained:
At the hearing, the State laid out for the Court and for
Norton the evidence the State anticipates it would present at
trial, including three exhibits. The State contends that
Norton was required to register due to his North Carolina
convictions (as cited in the Complaint) being equivalent to
Kidnapping, in violation of Section 12.1-18-01 of the North
Dakota Century Code.
Norton does not dispute his North Carolina convictions for
Abduction of a Child and Second Degree Kidnapping . . . .
Defendant Norton argued, however, that he was never ordered
to register by the court in North Carolina which means he
could not be required to register in North Dakota.
Norton's argument was riddled almost entirely with
hearsay statements which he argued came from his out-of-state
attorneys, his federal probation officer and officials in
North Carolina who purportedly told him he did not have to
The Court finds there is no legal basis warranting dismissal
of this complaint. The Court adopts the State's arguments
as outlined in its [written response to the motion to
dismiss] and those made at the hearing.
The Court was not persuaded by Norton's arguments in
favor of dismissal. Norton's arguments, in particular his
argument that he did not have an opportunity to register due
to being incarcerated. The Court concluded that they are more
properly brought before a jury for a factual determination.
entered a conditional guilty plea to the charge, reserving
his right to appeal ...