A man is charged with the crime of failure to register as a sex offender. He then moves to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it is facially insufficient. He raises two interesting issues with respect to the complex and still relatively new law, namely the proper geographical jurisdiction for a trial for failure to register, and the extent to which the complainant must plead and ultimately prove that a previously convicted sex offender acted intentionally when violating his duty to register.
Subsequently, the court found first that the man may be prosecuted in Bronx County, the county where his original sex crimes was committed and where he still lives, even though the sex offender monitoring unit where the man failed to register as a sex offender was located in New York County.
Based on records, the Bronx County has the geographical jurisdiction over the man’s case because the man’s failure to register affects the Bronx County, in that the police and the community in the county will not receive appropriate sex offender act notifications about the man. However, in order to proceed with the case in the county, it will be the complainant’s burden at trial to prove that the man either intended or knew that his failure to register would affect Bronx.
Second, the court found that the complaint in the man’s case which alleges that the man signed a sex offender registration act form that set forth his duty to register at the appropriate location and date satisfies any applicable requirement of notice.
The better view is that the act is a regulatory statute, designed to protect the community safety, and that act imposes strict liability upon a sex offender who fails to register as required.
Sources revealed that the geographical jurisdiction of a given county within the state over an alleged crime is a question of venue. The jurisdiction is not an element of the crime. While the territorial jurisdiction of the state over a crime must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt and venue in a particular county need only be established by a preponderance of the evidence.
At trial, the burden is on the complainant to prove by a prevalence of the evidence that the county where the crime is prosecuted is the proper venue because either the crime was committed there or one of the legal exceptions is applicable. Domestic Violence was not an issue.
In the case, the man first notes that, according to the complaint, he was required to register as a sex offender at an office established for that purpose.
Sources revealed that any sex offender required to register or to verify pursuant to the provision of an article who fails to register or verify in the manner and within the time periods provided shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor upon conviction for the first offense, and upon conviction for a second or subsequent offense shall be guilty of a class D felony. Any such failure to register or verify may also be the basis for revocation of parole.
The man further argues that as a result the proper geographical jurisdiction for the criminal case is in New York County, and that the Bronx County criminal court lacks geographical jurisdiction.
The complainant responds by arguing that the Bronx County criminal court does have geographical jurisdiction over the case.
According to the complaint, the man was previously convicted of attempted rape in Bronx County. Presumably, the crime was committed in the Bronx. Moreover, even if the criminal complaint does not say where the man lives today, the court file indicates that the man lives at his Bronx address. So, it certainly appears that the man now lives in Bronx County.
The complainant therefore argues with considerable logical force that the man’s case belongs in the Bronx County. They assert that the man’s failure to register as a sex crimes offender has a particular effect on the county.
The aforesaid effect is to prevent the twin goals of the sex offender act as they apply to the man. Those goals are to protect the citizens of the Bronx, where the man now lives, and to enhance the ability of Bronx law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute future sex crimes.
The court agrees that the Bronx would be an appropriate geographical jurisdiction for the man’s case for the very reasons cited by the complainant. It is admittedly true that the man was supposed to go to an office in order to register as a sex offender. But his alleged failure to register in the place plainly affects the complainant of the Bronx, where the man lives. That is so because the result of the man’s failure to register is that both the citizens of the Bronx and the police authorities in the Bronx will not receive the notifications that should appropriately flow from such registration.
However, there are at least two somewhat formalistic, but nevertheless important, problems with the complaint. First, the complainant rely on the theory that jurisdiction is appropriate in the Bronx because the man now lives in the Bronx. Yet the complaint in the man’s case fails to allege that the man lives in the Bronx.
A second and more formidable problem may be found in the language of the law upon which the complainant’s injured forum jurisdictional theory relies. The law requires not only that the man’s act have an effect in the Bronx. It also requires that the man’s act was performed with intent that it would, or with knowledge that it was likely to, have such particular effect in the Bronx. However, the complaint in the man’s case contains no such allegation about the man’s intent or knowledge.
Afterward, the court declines to imply or read into the law a new legal requirement that a criminal court misdemeanor accusatory instrument must recite facts in support of a geographical jurisdictional allegation. The standard of facial sufficiency is met when all the elements of the crime are made out by a complaint. Drug possession was not an issue.
The second ground for the man’s motion to dismiss is that the complaint is insufficient because it does not allege that the man’s failure to register as a sex offender pursuant to the sex offender registration act was knowing and intentional.
As a result, even if the legal definition of failure to register set out in the law does not expressly require any culpable state, a culpable mental state may nevertheless be required for the crime if the conduct proscribed by section necessarily involves such a mental state.
The court stated that the Bronx County does have geographical jurisdiction over the man’s case. Failure to register under the sex offender registration act is a strict liability crime. There is no requirement that the complainant allege that the man acted knowingly or intentionally. However, the complainant is required to plead and later prove that the man was given notice of his duty to register.
Afterward, the complaint against the man is clearly sufficient because the complaint alleges first that the man was provided with and signed a sex offender registration act form that expressly notified him of his registration obligation, and second that the man thereafter failed to register. As a result, the man’s motion to dismiss is denied.
If you want to have the best legal representative on your case, you can seek the assistance of the New York Criminal Attorney. You can also avail of the services of the New York City Sex Crime Lawyer at Stephen Bilkis and Associates office for an allege sex offense filed against you.