Blog

Sex Offender Registration is Required Even When Adjudication is Withheld

//
Posted By
/
Categories

          In the case of Peter Price versus the State of Florida, the issue was whether Mr. Price was a sex offender who had to register under Florida law even though adjudication was withheld in his case.

 

          The relevant facts of this case are that in 1994 Mr. Price pled nolo contendere to two counts of lewd and lascivious assault upon a child.  Both crimes were committed between 1987 and 1990.  The judge withheld adjudication and sentenced Price to five years of probation.  In 1999, Price successfully completed probation.

 

          In 2008, Price was charged with committing the crime of failing to register as a sex offender.  His lawyer filed a motion to dismiss the charge in which he argued that because adjudication had been withheld, Price had not been convicted and was therefore not a sex offender who was required to register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.  Additionally, Price had pled nolo contendere.  The judge denied the motion.  

 

          Price appealed the judge’s ruling to Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal which agreed with the lower court’s decision to deny Price’s motion to dismiss.  

 

          The appellate court began its analysis by noting that Florida’s sex-offender registration law was first enacted in 1997 while Price was still on probation.  At that time, the word "convicted" meant that "the person has been determined guilty as a result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld."

 

          When Price’s probation ended in 1999, "convicted" meant that "regarding the person’s offense, there has been a determination of guilt as a result of a trial or the entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld."

 

          When Price was charged with failure of a sex offender to properly register in 2008, "convicted" meant that "there has been a determination of guilt as a result of a trial or the entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld, and includes an adjudication of delinquency of a juvenile as specified in this section…."

 

          The appellate continued on to state that:

 

          "Under the 1999 and 2008 language of [the sex offender registration law], ‘convicted’ for purposes of sex offender registry included entry of a plea of nolo contendere, regardless of whether adjudication was withheld. Based upon the record, Price indisputably met the criteria under the 1999 and 2008 versions of [the sex offender registration law] to be a sex offender who was required to register. Price relies on the fact that the language of the 1997 version of [the sex offender registration law] does not mention a plea of nolo contendere where adjudication was withheld under the definition of ‘convicted.’ Rather, it provides: ‘ "Convicted" means the person has been determined guilty as a result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld.’

 

          The fact that Price met the criteria under the 1999 and 2008 versions of [the sex offender registration law], rather than the 1997 version, is controlling because the sex offender registry requirements commenced when Price’s probation ended in 1999, and the State alleged in the [charging document] that Price failed to properly register in 2008. Even if the 1997 statutes were applicable, however, ‘convicted’ for purposes of sex offender registry under the 1997 version of [the sex offender registration law] also included the entry of a plea of nolo contendere where adjudication was withheld. In Montgomery v. State . . . the Florida Supreme Court ‘h[e]ld that a no contest plea followed by a withhold of adjudication is a conviction for purposes of sentencing under [Florida statute] section 921.0014.’ Importantly, ‘[s]ection 921.0021 define[d] a conviction as "a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld." ‘ . . .  Since the definition of ‘convicted’ in the 1997 version of [the sex offender registration law] is essentially the same as the section 921.0021 definition of conviction, Montgomery supports the conclusion that ‘convicted’ under the 1997 version of [the sex offender registration law] included the entry of a plea of nolo contendere where adjudication was withheld."

Call Now
Review