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State v. Washington

Supreme Court of Minnesota

March 14, 2018

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
W. C. Luther Washington, Appellant.

         Office of Appellate Courts Court of Appeals

          Lori Swanson, Minnesota Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Peter R. Marker, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondent.

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Chang Y. Lau, Assistant State Public Defender, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.


         1. Because violating the predatory-offender-registration statute, Minn. Stat. § 243.166 (2016), is a continuing offense, the date of that offense under Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines 2.B.l(c) is the entire date range during which the offender fails to register. Where 15 years had not elapsed between the start of the date range for appellant's continuing offense and the expiration of his sentence for a prior felony conviction, the district court did not err in including the prior felony in the calculation of appellant's criminal history score.

         2. Because appellant waived his right to a jury trial on guilt, and the district court established the date of appellant's offense as part of that determination, Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), does not require that a jury also decide the date of appellant's offense.


          GILDEA, Chief Justice.

         This case involves the calculation of appellant W.C. Washington's criminal history score. Under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, prior felony sentences are used to calculate criminal history scores unless a period of 15 years has elapsed between "the date of the current offense" and the expiration of the prior felony sentence. Minn. Sent. Guidelines 2.B.l(c). Washington argues that "the date of the current offense" for the crime of failure to register as a predatory offender under Minn. Stat. § 243.166 (2016) is the last day the offense occurs. He also argues that a jury, not the district court, has to decide "the date of current offense." The court of appeals concluded that "the date of the current offense, " which it determined to be a continuing offense, is the first day the offense occurs. Because we conclude that failing to register is a continuing crime that includes the entire range of dates on which Washington failed to register and that a jury was not required to find the date of Washington's current offense, we affirm.


         The State charged Washington with failing to register as required in Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 5(a). Specifically, the State charged that "[o]n or about the 9th day of June, 2013 to the 4th day of August, 2015, " Washington was required to but did not "register as a predatory offender." Under the predatory-offender-registration statute, at least 5 days before starting to live at a new primary address, a person required to register must "give written notice of the new primary address to the assigned corrections agent or to the law enforcement authority with which the person currently is registered." Id., subd. 3(b). It is a felony to knowingly violate the provisions of the registration statute. Id., subd. 5(a).[1]

         As of June 9, 2013, Washington reported to law enforcement that he was living at a residence on Larpenteur Avenue in Saint Paul. But on October 27, 2014, Washington was marked non-compliant because he failed to return an annual verification letter the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension sent to the registered address on Larpenteur Avenue. Under Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 4(e)(1), Washington was required to sign and return the verification. Washington was familiar with this requirement, having returned two such verification forms between June 9, 2013, and October 27, 2014.

         In May of 2015, after becoming aware of Washington's failure to return multiple verification letters, Saint Paul Police officer Lynette Cherry attempted to contact Washington to investigate his registration status. On May 8, 2015, Officer Cherry spoke with the resident of the Larpenteur Avenue residence, who informed her that Washington had never lived with him, although Washington had stayed with him a few times. On May 14, 2015, when Officer Cherry was finally able to contact Washington, he told her that he was currently residing on Douglas Street in Saint Paul. He also informed her that he had previously resided on Winifred Street in Saint Paul, but that he did not register either of these two addresses because he had not received the verification forms.

         Respondent State of Minnesota subsequently charged Washington with one count of knowingly failing to comply with the registration requirements, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 5(a). The complaint alleged that between June 9, 2013 and August 4, 2015, Washington was subject to, but failed to follow, the statute's registration requirements. Washington waived his right to a trial by jury and the matter proceeded to trial before the court.

         The district court found that Washington was required to register as a predatory offender, and that he knew of the requirement. The court also found that Washington knew that he was required to update his primary address as part of his registration, but that he failed to do so. Accordingly, the court concluded that Washington was guilty of one count of knowingly failing to register as a predatory offender, an offense the court found ...

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