The Minnesota Court of Appeals determined that a district court erred when they ordered a Defendant to register as a predatory offender. See State of Minnesota vs. Stevie Junior Killett.
Defendant Stevie Junior Killett was charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct, third degree attempted criminal sexual conduct, fourth degree criminal sexual conduct, and fifth degree possession of a controlled substance. A jury acquitted Defendant of the criminal sexual conduct charges, but found him guilty of drug possession.
The facts surrounding the incident are as follows: Defendant’s ex-girlfriend was living at his home even though the two were no longer together, and he asked her if she would have sex with him. She refused. Defendant and his ex-girlfriend then did some cocaine that Defendant had in his bedroom. After that they smoked some marijuana laced with cocaine in Defendant’s basement. Defendant then asked his ex-girlfriend again if she would have sex with him. His ex-girlfriend testified at trial that she again refused and that Defendant sexually assaulted her by forcing her to have sex with him. Defendant testified at trial that he did not sexually assault her because she had agreed to have sex with him. The ex-girlfriend said that at the time that the Defendant sexually assaulted her, she could not longer feel the effects of the drugs.
The next day, the ex-girlfriend told the police that Defendant had forced her to have sex with him. The police arrested Defendant and after getting a search warrant and searching Defendant’s house, they found cocaine.
Even though Defendant was found not guilty of the sexual assault charges because he was found guilty of the drug possession charges, he was ordered by the district court that he must register as a predatory offender. Defendant appealed the sentencing order regarding the registration requirement.
Under Minnesota law, if a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to a criminal sexual conduct charge, the person is required to register as a predatory offender for a minimum period of ten years up to lifetime. The predatory registration process consists of notifying community corrections and local law enforcement of the person’s home address, as well as work and school information. Under Minnesota State law, predatory sex offender information is available to the public. Even if a person is not convicted of a charged criminal sexual conduct offense, he or she may still be required to register if the offense arose out of the same set of circumstances.
In this case, the district court ordered Defendant to register as a predatory offender because the district court erroneously determined that all charges arose out of the same set of circumstances. Therefore, even though Defendant was acquitted by a jury of the criminal sexual conduct charges, since he was convicted of the drug possession charges the district court ordered that he was required to register.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals previously considered this same argument regarding predatory registration earlier this year in another unpublished opinion, State of Minnesota vs. Matthew Adam David. In that case, the Defendant was also acquitted of the criminal sexual conduct charges by a jury, but he was found guilty of furnishing alcohol to minors and contributing to the delinquency of minors. The Court upheld the registration requirement in that case finding that all the charges arose from the same set of circumstances.
However, the Minnesota Court of Appeals surprisingly overturned the registration requirement set by the district court for Defendant Killett in this matter finding that the alleged sexual assault and the drug possession were “not sufficiently linked to have arisen out of the same set of circumstances.” The Court of Appeals found that sexual assault allegations and the drug possession seem to have simply overlapped and were not related. A important differentiating factor in this matter as compared to David, is that the ex-girlfriend in this case testified that when the alleged sexual assault took place she was no longer under the influence of cocaine. So, even though cocaine was present because it did not play a part in the alleged criminal sexual conduct charges, it was not considered to have arisen out of the same set of circumstances. As such, no predatory registration is required for Defendant Killett.
While the Court of Appeals came to the correct determination in this decision by finding no predatory registration is required, it is concerning to think about whether the same decision would have been reached if Defendant’s girlfriend would have stated she was still under the influence of drugs when the reported sexual assault allegedly occurred. In cases where a Defendant is acquitted of an offense that would require predatory registration, the registration requirement sometimes goes too far. As is evident by the Court of Appeals very different rulings in these two cases, reviewed in the same year, whether an offense arises out of the same set of circumstances, thereby requiring registration, can turn on some very specific, minute factors. An acquittal of a criminal sexual conduct charge should not result in the same collateral consequences of being a convicted sex offender.
If you are facing criminal sexual conduct charges, there can be devastating effects as far as employment, schooling, and occupational licensing are concerned, not to mention the damage it can do to your reputation. It is essential that you have someone looking out for your interests by contacting a Minneapolis Criminal Defense Attorney right away.