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Stallworth v Dept of Public Safety

5-22-2008 Mississippi:

(986 So.2d 259 (2008)
(NOTE: No longer req. to register in Maryland, then, moved to Mississippi and failed to register)

In early 2002, Jeffery A. Stallworth ("Stallworth"), a resident of Mississippi, was indicted on five separate sex offenses in Prince George's County, Maryland. The indictment charged Stallworth with one count of second-degree rape, one count of second-degree sex offense, one count of second-degree assault, and two counts of fourth-degree sex offense. The victim was an adult resident of Maryland.

On March 4, 2002, Stallworth appeared before the Maryland circuit court and pleaded guilty to one count of fourth-degree sex offense. The other counts on which Stallworth was indicted were nolle prossed. The offense to which Stallworth pleaded guilty is codified in Maryland Code Annotated, Criminal Law Section 3-308(b)(1). Under section 3-308(b)(1), a person is guilty of sexual offense in the fourth degree if that person engages in "sexual contact with another without the consent of the other." Under Maryland law, a fourth-degree sex offense is a misdemeanor and does not require registration as a sex offender.

On May 3, 2002, Stallworth again appeared before the Maryland circuit court and was sentenced by the trial judge to serve one year in prison, but that sentence of incarceration was suspended and Stallworth was placed on supervised probation for two years. It was further authorized by the Maryland court that Stallworth's probation could be transferred to Mississippi.

After being sentenced by the Maryland court, Stallworth returned to Mississippi, whereupon the Mississippi Department of Public Safety ("MDPS") required him to register as a sex offender pursuant to the Mississippi Sex Offender Registration Laws beginning with Mississippi Code Annotated Section 45-33-21 (Rev.2004). Stallworth registered with MDPS on November 18, 2002, and as required by Mississippi Code Annotated Section 45-33-31, Stallworth was required to re-register every ninety days. There is no claim that Stallworth failed to re-register per Mississippi Code Annotated Section 45-33-31.

On October 19, 2005, Stallworth filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County. In his complaint, Stallworth averred MDPS had "illegally required him to register." Stallworth stated a fourth-degree sexual offense in Maryland is not a registerable offense in the State of Mississippi and that he should not be required to continue registration as a sex offender in this state.

Requiring Jeffery Stallworth to register fulfills the spirit and intent of the Legislature in creating the Mississippi Sex Offender Registration Laws. To do otherwise would be an affront to and an intrusion upon the rights of the general public, whom the law seeks to protect.

It is not the duty or within the power of this Court to divine the State of Maryland's intent in allowing Stallworth to plead guilty to a non-registerable offense in Maryland after being charged with multiple sexual offenses. It is our calling to interpret the laws of this state passed by our Legislature to protect the citizens of this state. The Mississippi Sex Offender Registration Laws are designed to warn the public of persons who commit sex offenses.

The facts surrounding Stallworth's conduct and crime prove that he has committed a registerable offense. Stallworth has not satisfied the requirements, nor has he met the burden of proof which would relieve him of his continuing duty to register. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the ruling of the trial court and Stallworth shall not be relieved of his duty to register. Article: Court: Pastor stays on registry

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