528 F.3d 852 (11th Cir. 2008), 07-12176, United States v. Madera

Docket Nº:07-12176.
Citation:528 F.3d 852
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Wilfredo G. MADERA, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:May 23, 2008
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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528 F.3d 852 (11th Cir. 2008)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Wilfredo G. MADERA, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 07-12176.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

May 23, 2008

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James T. Skuthan , Acting Fed. Pub. Def., Orlando, FL, John L. Badalamenti , Fed. Pub. Def., Tampa, FL, for Madera.

Patricia D. Barksdale, Jacksonville, FL, Roberta Josephine Bodnar, Orlando, FL, for U.S.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Before BARKETT , FAY and STAPLETON,[*] Circuit Judges.

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Wilfredo G. Madera (“Madera" ) appeals from the district court's denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment against him for failing to register as a sex offender in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a) and the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (“Walsh Act" ). On appeal, Madera argues that the Walsh Act is unconstitutional because it violates the following provisions of the United States Constitution: 1) the Non-Delegation Doctrine, Art. I, § 1; 2) the ex post facto clause, Art. I, § 9, cl. 3; 3) both the procedural and substantive due process clauses of the Fifth Amendment; and 4) the Commerce Clause, Art. I, § 8, cl. 3. The district court denied Madera's motion to dismiss, holding as a matter of law that the Walsh Act was both retroactive and constitutional. We reverse.

Factual Background

Madera was convicted in New York in November 2005 of sexual abuse in the second degree, a misdemeanor under New York Penal Code § 130.60. He was sentenced to six years of probation for this conviction, but was not incarcerated. Madera signed a sexual offender registration form in New York, dated May 1, 2006, which stated, “If you move to another state you must register as a sex offender within 10 days of establishing residence."

Madera subsequently moved to Florida, and was issued a driver's license on June 1, 2006 with an address in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was arrested on October 23, 2006 for failure to register as a sex offender in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250 , and was thereafter indicted by a grand jury for “knowingly and unlawfully fail[ing] to register and update a registration as required by [the Walsh Act]."

After the district court denied Madera's motion to dismiss, Madera entered a conditional plea of guilty to the failure to register charge, permitting him to appeal that motion. The district court then sentenced Madera to time served, four years of probation, and a $500 fine. As of March 8, 2007, Madera has been registered with the State of Florida Sexual Offender Registration database. This appeal followed.

Standard of Review

Generally, we review a district court's denial of a motion to dismiss for an abuse of discretion. See United States v. Noriega, 117 F.3d 1206, 1211 (11th Cir.1997) . To the extent that the district court's determination rests on the district court's resolution of questions of law, however, we must review those questions of law de novo. Id. 1


The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, Pub.L. No. 109-248 , was enacted on July 27, 2006. Title I of the Act, entitled the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA" ), creates a national sex offender registry law. In addition to defining the term “sex offender" and addressing the various tiers of sex offender status, 42 U.S.C. § 16911 , SORNA also requires every jurisdiction to maintain a sex offender registry conforming to the requirements of SORNA.

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42 U.S.C. § 16912 . At a minimum, SORNA requires sex offenders to provide information disclosing their name and aliases, Social Security number, residence, place of employment and/or school, and vehicle information. 42 U.S.C. § 16914(a) (1)-(7) . Every jurisdiction must also include in the sex offender registry the sex offender's physical description, criminal history, current photographs, fingerprints and palm prints, DNA sample, and a photocopy of a driver's license or identification card. 42 U.S.C. § 16914(b) (1)-(8) . Certain information about the sex offender (exempting items such as Social Security numbers) is also mandated to be published on a jurisdictional website, and each jurisdiction's website must contain full field search capabilities for participation in the National Sex Offender Public Website which is maintained by the Attorney General. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 16918 , 16920 .

Most pertinent to this case, SORNA also delineates how and when a sex offender should register under the Act. In general, sex offenders are required to register in each jurisdiction where the sex offender resides within three days of being sentenced, unless they are sentenced to a term of imprisonment for the sex offense, in which case they must register before completing their sentence. 42 U.S.C. § 16913(a) -(b) .2 If a sex offender has a change in name, residence, employment, or student status, the sex offender must update their registration within three days. 42 U.S.C. § 16913(c) . SORNA creates a new federal crime for those individuals who fail to register, or to keep their registration current, despite being required to do so by subjecting the sex offender to fines or imprisonment up to ten years, or both. 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a) .3 On appeal,

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Madera challenges the district court's ruling that SORNA is retroactive from its date of enactment and the court's rejection of his arguments that SORNA is unconstitutional. We first consider SORNA's retroactivity.

Congress vested the Attorney General with “the authority to specify the applicability of the requirements of this subchapter to...

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