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Maine v Reynolds

5-7-15 Maine:

Maine v Reynolds

Ronnie L. Reynolds appeals from a judgment of conviction entered by the Superior Court (Washington County, R. Murray, J.) after a jury found Reynolds guilty of his second offense of failing to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 1999 (Class C), 34-A M.R.S. § 11227(2) (2014).

Reynolds is, by law, a lifetime registrant; however, he asserts that he was led to believe that a 2004 amendment to SORNA changed his classification from a lifetime registrant to a ten-year registrant.

He contends that the court erred in excluding relevant evidence of a letter from the Department of Public Safety, State Bureau of Identification that caused him to believe that he was no longer required to register. See 34-A M.R.S. § 11227(6) (2014).

We agree that the court erred in excluding the letter. We vacate the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

... ... ...

In short, had the letter been admitted in evidence and had Reynolds offered testimony about the letter, it would have been for a jury to determine the reasonableness of (1) Reynolds’s belief that the letter reclassified him as a ten-year registrant and (2) his belief that the ten-year registration period had expired, thus amounting to just cause for failing to register.

To the extent that the court determined that Reynolds’s purported reliance on the letter was not believable, the court made a credibility determination that should have been made by the jury. See Allen, 2006 ME 20, ¶ 26, 892 A.2d 447. The court’s exclusion of the letter as irrelevant was clearly erroneous.

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