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State v Depeche

4-13-2011 Oregon:

State v. Depeche (This is a very interesting case for a few reasons)

Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for one count of felony failure to report as a sex offender, ORS 181.599 (2005),1 assigning error to the trial court's denial of his motion for a judgment of acquittal. He argues that the evidence is insufficient to prove that he committed the offense because he attempted to make a timely report and was prepared to comply with all of the statutory requirements for reporting, but his report was refused. As explained below, we agree with defendant that his statutory obligation to report was satisfied and, accordingly, reverse.

The relevant facts are few and undisputed. Defendant was required to comply with the sex offender registration statutes as a result of his 1995 conviction for sexual abuse in the second degree, a felony for which he was sentenced to 60 months' probation. Sometime in early May 2007, defendant moved out of his residence in Portland and into a new one. On Monday, May 14, 2007, defendant went with his mother to the Beaverton Police Department to report his change of address, as required by ORS 181.596(4)(b)(A). The police department had no record of defendant's report and was unable to confirm that defendant had visited the department in May. However, the state does not dispute that defendant timely attempted to report his change of address with the Beaverton Police Department on May 14, "but, because he did not have proof of his new address—as is required by that police department—the department did not complete the registration form necessary to fulfill defendant's reporting requirement." He was subsequently charged, in Multnomah County Circuit Court, of one count of felony failure to report as a sex offender based on his failure to report his change of address. ORS 181.599(1)(c).2

Defendant was convicted, following a bench trial, of one count of felony failure to report as a sex offender.3 He now appeals.

On appeal, defendant contends that he satisfied his legal obligation to report because he presented himself in person to the Beaverton Police Department within the required timelines and was fully prepared to comply with the statutory reporting requirements, but was refused. The state responds that more is required under the statute than merely attempting to report; rather, according to the state, "defendant has reported only when he has provided sufficient information for an agency or official to complete a sex offender registration form." The address verification requirement, in the state's view, is a "logical" requirement for completing the form, given the purpose of the sex offender registration statutes to facilitate tracking of convicted sex offenders. Because defendant did not provide that verification or, alternatively, report to another law enforcement agency (presumably one that did not require proof of address), the state contends, the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of the offense.

....

In short, although we agree with the state that, to avoid liability for the crime of failure to report as a sex offender under ORS 181.599, defendant was required to "provide[ ] sufficient information for an agency or official to complete a sex offender registration form," defendant did so in this case. Thus, the evidence was insufficient to convict him of that offense, and the trial court erred in denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal.

Reversed.

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