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Wright v State

9-21-2011 Arkansas:

Wright v State
(2011 Ark. 356)
(Effectively this case holds, that once convicted a person must register, and if the case is later overturned, the person is still criminally responsible for any Failure to Register charge which occurred during the period before the case was overturned)
On June 28, 2005, appellant James Brian Wright entered a plea of guilty in the Sebastian County Circuit Court, Fort Smith District, to the offenses of overdraft and failure to comply with the reporting requirements of the Sex and Child Offender Registration Act. As a result, the circuit court suspended imposition of sentence for a period of five years on both convictions. For each offense, appellant was sentenced to two years in prison followed by a four-year suspended imposition of sentence. Appellant brings this appeal from the circuit court's order denying the latest in a series of motions that he filed seeking to set aside his convictions for failure to register as a sex offender. For reversal, he contends that his failure-to-register convictions should be overturned because an Oklahoma court vacated the rape conviction on which the registration requirement was based, that the circuit court's refusal to set aside the convictions violated the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution; and that under federal law it was the responsibility of the releasing institution to inform the local government of the requirement to register. We affirm the circuit court's decision that appellant was not entitled to postconviction relief.

At issue in this case are appellant's 2005 and 2006 convictions for failing to register as a sex offender. In May 2008, an Oklahoma District Court granted appellant's application for postconviction relief and vacated appellant's 1994 conviction for rape. On June 16, 2008, appellant filed a petition in circuit court pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37.1 (2011), arguing that his failure-to-register convictions should be set aside because the rape conviction, which led to the requirement for him to register as a sex offender, had been vacated. In July 2008, the circuit court denied appellant's petition as untimely. The court also noted that appellant was under an obligation to register when he pled guilty to the then valid charges of failing to register as a sex offender.1

On November 26, 2008, appellant filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis in circuit court. In this petition, appellant also argued that his convictions for failing to register should be vacated due to the setting aside of his Oklahoma rape conviction. By an order dated December 5, 2008, the circuit court denied the petition for writ of error coram nobis, finding that the setting aside of the rape conviction had no effect on his convictions for failing to register because, at the time appellant pled guilty to those offenses, he was required by law to register as a sex offender.

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