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State v William Dinkins Sr

The essence of this case is, a person cannot be released from prison unless they have an residence (address), but finding one when in-prison is impossible. The state's position is absurd, the inmate needs to be released to find a residence..

3-12-2012 Wisconsin:

State v. William Dinkins, Sr. (Supreme court)

1 The State seeks review of a published decision of the court of appeals that reversed a judgment and order of the circuit court finding William Dinkins, Sr. guilty of knowingly failing to comply with the sex offender registration statute.[1] That statute required Dinkins to provide the Department of Corrections (DOC) with "the address at which [he] . . . will be residing" at least ten days prior to his release from prison.[2] The circuit court found that Dinkins attempted to comply with the registration requirements but was unable to find housing for himself prior to his release. Nevertheless, relying on the testimony adduced at the preliminary hearing, the circuit court adjudged Dinkins guilty of a Class H felony.

2 The State asserts that the court of appeals erred in reversing the circuit court's judgment. It contends that homelessness is not a defense to failing to comply with the registration requirements and that Dinkins could have complied with the statute by listing a park bench or other on-the-street location as the place he would be residing.

3 We agree with the State that homeless registrants are not exempt from registration requirements and that homelessness is not a defense to failing to comply with the registration requirements. However, we disagree that Dinkins was capable of complying with the statute by listing a park bench or other on-the-street location.

... ... ...

By applying well-settled principles of statutory construction, we conclude that a registrant cannot be convicted of violating Wis. Stat. § 301.45(6) for failing to report the address at which he will be residing when he is unable to provide this information. We determine that a registrant is unable to provide the required information when that information does not exist, despite the registrant's reasonable attempt to provide it. Here, the circuit court found that Dinkins attempted to comply with the statute, that he was unable to find housing on his own, and that the DOC would have to find housing for him. These findings are not clearly erroneous. Accordingly, albeit upon a different rationale, we affirm the court of appeals.

The decision of the court of appeals is affirmed.

State v. William Dinkins, Sr. (Court of Appeals)


¶ 26 In sum, because Dinkins did not have an address at which he could have reasonably predicted he would have been able to "reside," he could not be convicted for failing to comply with the address reporting requirement of WIS. STAT. § 301.45(2)(a)5. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of conviction and the order denying postconviction relief. Judgment and order reversed.

Court rules for homeless sex offender who didn't register address (3-13-2012)

William Dinkins Sr. spent nine years in prison for a sex crime, so he had to register as sex offender before he got out in 2008.

But Dinkins, 59, had nowhere to go despite trying, and no address to provide within 10 days of his release, so he was charged and convicted of a new felony — violating the sex offender registration law.

The Court of Appeals reversed and on Tuesday the state Supreme Court upheld that decision.

"In isolation, the penalty subsection of the statute appears to criminalize the failure to provide required information — without regard to the registrant's ability to provide that information," the court found.

Prosecutors argued that Dinkins could have listed a park bench or some other street location where he intended to sleep in order to comply with the law.

The majority opinion said that would be an unreasonable interpretation, and would hardly have helped authorities keep track of Dinkins, who after all those years in prison wouldn’t even know the areas a homeless person might be able to stay.

The court stressed it was not creating an exception for any homeless sex offender, but was ruling on the particulars in Dinkins’ case. He had completed his full sentence and was not subject to continued Department of Corrections monitoring, as would be almost any offenders sentenced after 1999. In those instances, DOC would responsible for placing the offender in a halfway house or such setting for extended supervision.

A Dodge County judge ordered him to jail for 90 days and told the DOC to try and help find Dinkins a place to go. Dinkins appealed the conviction for failing to register, arguing there were administrative ways to address his situation short of a new prosecution.

Since his case, the DOC has adopted new guidelines allowing someone in Dinkins’ situation to call in every week to say where they’ve been frequenting and sleeping, until they settle at a formal address.

In a harsh dissent joined by Justice Michael Gableman, Justice Annette Ziegler accused the majority of creating "a registration loophole for arguably some of the most dangerous sex offenders: those whose whereabouts are unknown and who are otherwise not subject to supervision by the Department of Corrections."

The dissent said that Dinkins was clearly guilty of not providing the information as required by the statute, and his conviction should be upheld.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, saw that coming and used a footnote to characterize the dissent as a straw man argument. A sex offender can’t merely claim homelessness and avoid registration, but must be “unable to find housing, despite reasonably attempting to do so. If a circuit court concludes that the registrant did not reasonably attempt to find housing, a prosecution may proceed.”

Dinkins now lives in Madison, according to the sex offender registry.

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