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State Police wrongly arrested man, court says

3-24-2012 West Virginia:

The State Police did not have the right to arrest a Tyler County man for failure to re-register as a sex offender upon his release from jail in 2010, the West Virginia Court of Appeals said Thursday.

Sex offenders are only required to re-register their information following a conviction -- not after an arrest, the Appeals Court ruled.

On Dec. 27, 2010, the Tyler County Circuit Court dismissed a failure to register as a sex offender charge against Timothy John Judge, 30. Tyler County Prosecuting Attorney D. Luke Furbee then appealed the dismissal.

On Sept. 19, 2002, Judge was convicted of a third-degree sexual abuse charge and severed 18 months of probation, according to the opinion.

Judge was in compliance with the sex offender registry and updated his information just weeks before he was arrested on May 7, 2010 for a charge of accessory after the fact to breaking and entering. After a one-night stay in the North Central Regional Jail, Judge returned to his previously registered home, according to the opinion.

Police arrested Judge because he did not complete a new sex offender registration form.

According to the State Police's form, an offender must re-register with three days "of release from an institution."

Furbee said the sex offender law wasn't clear on what is required of an offender after an arrest.

"The interpretation that the State Police was using ... were being advised if they had been committed to jail during a period of registration or any other institution involuntarily, they were to essentially renew their registration within three business day of their release," he said.

The Appeals Court ruled, "the duty to register as a sex offender arises upon a conviction of an offense.

"In this case, it was alleged the defense did not follow those directions and the problem simply was 'did that amount to a criminal violation or not?'" Furbee said.

The state acknowledged "there is an apparent gap or disconnect in the statutory language of [the sex offender law] and the State Police's rule and forms," according to the opinion.

The Appeals Court said all State Police forms that "include language instructing sex offenders of their obligation to re-register upon each release from incarceration should be rewritten to remove such language."

"It was an arguable issue and the court apparently agreed that it was by accepting this appeal for full argument. The court answered that question in the negative," Furbee said. "Now we know the right answer, and we have to have certainty if we're going to be asked to prosecute these cases."

State Police Spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous declined to comment. ..Source.. by Travis Crum

Judge Gets 1-5 Years For Registration Violation


Timothy John Judge, 31, of Box 132, Friendly, was sentenced Tuesday in Wetzel County Circuit Court to one to five years in the West Virginia State Penitentiary for Men.

He had pleaded guilty on Aug. 13 to failing to register as a sex offender or provide a change in information to the West Virginia State Police in Wetzel County by knowingly failing or refusing to report his move to a new address.

Both sides of counsel had their chance to give last words to the Judge Mark A. Karl before he went through with sentencing. Jeremiah Gardner, Judge's defense, reminded Karl of a letter written by Judge's employer in his favor. Gardner also reported that Judge is gainfully employed and is paying child support. Gardner stated that the error made by Judge was a technical one, in that he bought a cell phone and forgot to report his new cell phone number.

Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught reminded the court of Judge's history in both Tyler and Pleasants counties, that this was not his first offense of a similar nature.

Judge Karl agreed and thus, sentenced Judge to one to five years. He admonished Judge, telling him, "You've had opportunities; this shouldn't come as a shock to you."

Judge can file a Rule 35 motion for a reduction in sentence after four months in prison. Also, the state previously agreed to drop count two, knowingly failing or refusing to report a new vehicle or change in vehicle, per the terms of Judge's plea agreement. ..Source.. by LAUREN RIGGS

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