of Appeals, Office of Appellate Courts
Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and, David
Walker, Freeborn County Attorney, Albert Lea, Minnesota, for
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Julie
Loftus Nelson, Assistant Appellate Public Defender, Saint
Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.
phrase "leaves a primary address" in the provision
that requires a predatory offender to register because of a
change in the offender's primary address means that a
predatory offender's living arrangement at the primary
address has ended. See Minn. Stat. § 243.166,
subd. 3a(a) (2018).
Because subdivision 5(a) of the predatory-offender
registration statute, Minnesota Statutes section 243.155
(2018), requires a knowing violation, and the circumstances
proved by the State were consistent with the reasonable
inference that appellant did not know that his living
arrangement at his primary address, a motel, had ended, the
evidence was insufficient to support appellant's
conviction under the circumstantial-evidence standard.
case we consider what it means to "leave a primary
address" under Minnesota's predatory-offender
registration statute, which makes an offender's knowing
failure to register a felony offense. Minn. Stat. §
243.166, subds. 3a(a), 5(a) (2018). A jury found appellant
Jose Alarcon, Jr. ("Alarcon") guilty of knowingly
failing to register as a predatory offender when he did not
register with local law enforcement authorities within 24
hours of leaving his registered primary address, a motel room
in Albert Lea.
appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed, concluding that
sufficient evidence sustained his conviction. We hold that to
convict a defendant of knowingly failing to register when a
predatory offender "leaves a primary address and does
not have a new primary address," Minn. Stat. §
243.166, subd. 3a(a) (2018), the State must prove not only
that the defendant's living arrangement at the primary
address had ended, but also that the defendant knew
that this living arrangement had ended. We further hold that
the evidence at trial was insufficient to support
Alarcon's conviction. The State attempted to prove by
circumstantial evidence that Alarcon knew that his living
arrangement at the motel had ended. The circumstances proved,
however, were consistent with a reasonable inference to the
contrary. We therefore reverse the decision of the court of
the State of Minnesota charged Alarcon with knowingly failing
to register as a predatory offender under Minnesota Statutes
section 243.166, subdivision 5(a). The probable cause portion
of the criminal complaint alleged that Alarcon "did not
report to the arresting officer, his probation officer, or
other law enforcement officer his change of primary address
despite the statutory requirement to do so within 24 hours of
the loss of primary address on April 3rd, ." At a
jury trial, the following evidence was presented.
was required to comply with the predatory-offender
registration requirements because in August 2014, he was
convicted of soliciting a child to engage in sexual conduct.
See Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 1b(a)(2)
(2018). Upon his conviction, Alarcon signed a "duty to
register" form. On the form, Alarcon acknowledged that
"if I do not have a primary address I must report to the
law enforcement authority with jurisdiction in the area where
I will be staying within 24 hours of leaving my former
months later, on December 15, 2014, Alarcon moved to a motel
in Albert Lea. He registered the motel's address as his
"primary address." Two weeks later, he updated his
information to specify the room number in which he was
living, and he signed another "duty to register"
form. Alarcon's living arrangement with the motel was not
governed by a written lease agreement. Rather, he orally
agreed to pay the motel in advance for his stay-first, on a
monthly basis, but then on a weekly basis and sometimes on a
daily basis. At the time of the alleged offense, Alarcon was
paying in advance on a weekly basis.
paid his rent using a credit card from a relative for nearly
4 months without incident. But on April 3, 2015, when the
motel attempted to charge Alarcon for the upcoming week, the
credit charge was declined. Alarcon was not at the motel that
day but his personal belongings were in his room, unpacked.
Because of the declined charge, the motel manager placed a
"boot" on the doorknob that prevented Alarcon from
re-entering the room and a note on the door about the lapsed
payment. According to the manager's trial testimony, the
note read, "Mr. Alarcon, your rental [sic] is due today
at 11 a.m. It was not paid due to a declined credit card. We
have secured your room, and to gain access to the room and
your property, payment must be made." The manager did
not have any other contact information for Alarcon, so was
unable to reach him. After waiting 24 hours, the manager
instructed his staff to pack Alarcon's belongings and
place them in storage so that the room could be rented to
days later, on April 6, 2015, Alarcon was arrested in Albert
Lea during a traffic stop on unrelated charges. Apparently,
the police discovered that Alarcon was a registered predatory
offender upon his booking into jail. The next morning, the
jail updated his registered primary address to reflect that
he was "currently housed at the Freeborn County jail as
of April 7, 2015."
probation officer testified that Alarcon did not notify her
that he had left his primary address at the motel on April 3,
2015, did not discuss any plans to change his primary
address, and did not contact her at all during the 3-day
period between April 3 and April 6, 2015. The motel manager
also testified that Alarcon did not contact him during that
3-day period. The manager testified that "at some
point" after April 6, 2015, Alarcon called to arrange to
pick up his belongings from the motel, estimating that
Alarcon retrieved his belongings a couple weeks later.
found Alarcon guilty of knowingly failing to register as a
predatory offender. He was sentenced to 18 months in
prison. On appeal Alarcon challenged the
sufficiency of the evidence at trial. The court of appeals
affirmed Alarcon's conviction, concluding that the
evidence was sufficient to show that he knew of his
registration requirements and that he "had no
arrangement to continue living [at the motel] once his
payment was declined[.]" State v. Alarcon, No.
A17-1325, 2018 WL 3520538, at *4 (Minn.App. July 23, 2018).
granted Alarcon's petition for further review in part,
agreeing to consider whether the State's evidence was
sufficient to support his failure-to-register conviction.
Minnesota's predatory-offender registration statute, an
offender must "register" with an assigned
corrections officer or, in certain circumstances, a local law
enforcement authority. Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 3(a)
(2018). Registering requires the offender to provide, among
other information, a "primary
address." Id., subd. 4a(a)(1). A
"primary address" is "the mailing address of a
person's dwelling." Id., subd. 1a(g). A
"dwelling" is "the building where the person
lives under a formal or informal agreement to do so."
Id., subd. 1a(c).
specific registration requirement at issue involves an
offender who leaves a primary address. When an offender
"leaves a primary address and does not have a new
primary address," the offender must "register with
the law enforcement authority that has jurisdiction in the
area where the person is staying within 24 hours of ...