Acra v. State, CR–10–1581.

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Writing for the CourtJOINER
Citation105 So.3d 460
PartiesDavid Wayne ACRA v. STATE of Alabama.
Docket NumberCR–10–1581.
Decision Date28 September 2012

105 So.3d 460

David Wayne ACRA
v.
STATE of Alabama.

CR–10–1581.

Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.

Sept. 28, 2012.






Prior Version Recognized as Unconstitutional


Ala.Code § 15–20–22(a)(1)

[105 So.3d 462]

Bryan A. Stevenson, Andrew Reed Childers, and Charlotte Morrison, Montgomery, for appellant.

[105 So.3d 463]


Luther Strange, atty. gen., and Robin Denise Scales, asst. atty. gen., for appellee.


JOINER, Judge.

David Wayne Acra appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Rule 32, Ala. R.Crim. P. We reverse the judgment of the circuit court and remand this matter for further proceedings.

In June 2009, Acra pleaded guilty to violating the registration requirements of the Community Notification Act (“the CNA”), formerly § 15–20–22, Ala.Code (1975).1 Acra did not appeal his conviction. In November 2010, this Court in State v. Adams, 91 So.3d 724, 738 (Ala.Crim.App.2010), held:

“[Section] 15–20–22(a)(1) is unconstitutional and we address here two of the reasons: first, the statute violates the guarantee to equal protection under the law as provided in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and in Article I, §§ 1, 6, and 22, of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 because it resulted in an unreasonable and discriminatory classification based on wealth; and, second, the statute is unconstitutional as applied to the defendant in this case, under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, and under Article I, § 15, Ala. Const.1901, because the requirement in former § 15–20–22(a)(1) that a sex offender provide an ‘actual address at which he or she will reside’ punishes the defendant solely for his status of being homeless and, thus, violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.”

In May 2011, Acra filed a standard Rule 32 form and attached to it a supplement setting out his detailed claim. Acra indicated on the standard form that he was seeking relief under every subsection of Rule 32.1, Ala. R.Crim. P. In his supplement, Acra argued, among other things,2 that the trial court

“was without jurisdiction to prosecute him or impose sentence upon him due to [a] lack of constitutionality of the community notification act ... because [Acra] is a homeless[ ] [and] indigent offender who had ended his previous sentence for [first-degree sexual abuse] ... and could not supply his prison custodian a true address in which he would reside due to his homelessness.”
(C. 19–20.) In his petition, Acra raised arguments similar to those raised and addressed in Adams. In its response to Acra's petition, the State argued that Acra's petition was precluded, was time-barred, was insufficiently pleaded, and was without merit. (C. 27–32.) The circuit court agreed with the State and summarily dismissed Acra's petition.

Acra now appeals, arguing that his petition was sufficiently pleaded and that he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing. (Acra's brief, p. 5.) We agree, concluding that Acra has asserted a ground for relief under Rule 32.1, Ala. R.Crim. P., that his asserted ground for relief is not precluded, and, finally, that Acra is entitled to a hearing on his claim because he has pleaded

[105 So.3d 464]

facts that, if true, would entitle him to relief. We address each issue in turn.

“ ‘The standard of review on appeal in a postconviction proceeding is whether the [circuit court] abused [its] discretion when [it] denied the petition. Ex parte Heaton, 542 So.2d 931 (Ala.1989).’ ” Strickland v. State, 771 So.2d 1123, 1125 (Ala.Crim.App.1999) (quoting Elliott v. State, 601 So.2d 1118, 1119 (Ala.Crim.App.1992)). However, “when the facts are undisputed and an appellate court is presented with pure questions of law, that court's review in a Rule 32 proceeding is de novo.” Ex parte White, 792 So.2d 1097, 1098 (Ala.2001). In either instance, this Court may affirm the judgment of the circuit court for any reason, even if not for the reason stated by the circuit court.3See Reed v. State, 748 So.2d 231 (Ala.Crim.App.1999) (“If the circuit court is correct for any reason, even though it may not be the stated reason, we will not reverse its denial of the petition.”).

I. Grounds for Relief

Rule 32 provides a limited scope of review. Rule 32.1, Ala. R.Crim. P. Specifically, Rule 32.1 permits defendants to “institute proceedings ... to secure relief” on the following grounds:

“(a) The constitution of the United States or of the State of Alabama requires a new trial, a new sentence proceeding, or other relief.

“(b) The court was without jurisdiction to render judgment or to impose sentence.

“(c) The sentence imposed exceeds the maximum authorized by law or is otherwise not authorized by law.

“(d) The petitioner is being held in custody after the petitioner's sentence has expired.

“(e) Newly discovered material facts exist which require that the conviction or sentence be vacated by the court....

“(f) The petitioner failed to appeal within the prescribed time from the conviction or sentence itself or from the dismissal or denial of a petition previously filed pursuant to this rule and that failure was without fault on the petitioner's part.”

As noted above, Acra indicated in his petition that he was seeking relief under every subsection of Rule 32.1, Ala. R.Crim. P.; on appeal, however, Acra asserts only three grounds for relief.


In his first argument, Acra conflates subsections (b) and (c)—that the trial court was without jurisdiction to render judgment or to impose sentence and that Acra's sentence is illegal. (Acra's brief, pp. 18–20.) Specifically, Acra argues that Adams “establishes that the trial court was without jurisdiction to render judgment or impose a sentence on [Acra] for violating a statute that is unconstitutional as applied to him” and that Acra is serving an illegal sentence because, he says, according to Adams, the trial court was deprived of jurisdiction to accept Acra's guilty plea. (Acra's brief, pp. 18–20.) We agree with the State, however, that Acra's argument is without merit. Contrary to Acra's contention, this Court's holding in Adams does not implicate the jurisdiction of the trial court; instead, this Court in Adams upheld the dismissal of an indictment on the basis that the CNA registration requirement was unconstitutional as applied to Adams, an indigent defendant. Adams, 91 So.3d at 742. Likewise, because

[105 So.3d 465]

Acra's illegal-sentence argument hinges on his contention that Adams implicates the jurisdiction of the trial court, it, too, fails.

As the State asserts in its brief, Acra actually raises a constitutional claim which “falls in Rule 32.1(a)[, Ala. R.Crim. P.].” (State's brief, pp. 7, 9.) The true nature of Acra's claim—that his conviction and resulting sentence are unconstitutional—is argued throughout his brief. Specifically, Acra argues as follows:

“Acra was illegally and unconstitutionally convicted under former Ala.Code § 15–20–22(a)(1), and hence denied his guarantee to due process and equal protection under the law as provided in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and Article I, §§ 1, 6, and 22, of the Alabama Constitution, and his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, and under Article I, § 15 of the Alabama Constitutional.”

(Acra's petition, p. 13; see also Acra's brief, p. 17 (“Consequently, Mr. Acra's conviction violates his rights to equal protection and due process under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as Article I, §§ 1, 6, and 22, of the Alabama Constitution.”).) We agree with the State that “[d]espite Acra's appellate contention otherwise, in the circuit court Acra raised a constitutional claim” under Rule 32.1(a), Ala. R.Crim. P. (State's brief, p. 9.) We address Acra's claim accordingly.


II. Preclusion of Remedy

Having determined that Acra is asserting a constitutional claim under Rule 32.1(a), Ala. R.Crim. P., we next address whether that claim is precluded.

As a threshold matter, we agree with the State that constitutional claims generally are subject to the limitations period imposed by Rule 32.2(c), Ala. R.Crim. P., and that, in this case, Acra's constitutional claim appears to be untimely under that rule. Acra, however, urges this Court to find that the holding in Adams is retroactive and applies to cases on collateral review. 4 (Acra's brief, p. 11.) If the holding in Adams applies retroactively to cases on collateral review, Acra is not excluded from relief by the grounds of preclusion set out in Rule 32.2, Ala. R.Crim. P. See generally Ferguson v. State, 13 So.3d 418, 425–33 (Ala.Crim.App.2008) (addressing the retroactivity of caselaw on an issue deemed precluded by the circuit...

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33 practice notes
  • Williams v. State, CR–12–1862.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • April 4, 2014
    ...the rule announced in Miller is retroactive—is a purely legal one; accordingly, our standard of review is de novo. Acra v. State, 105 So.3d 460, 464 (Ala.Crim.App.2012).In Miller, the United States Supreme Court held that "the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates ......
  • Woods v. State, CR–10–0695.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 29, 2016
    ...may affirm the judgment of the circuit court for any reason, even if not for the reason stated by the circuit court." Acra v. State, 105 So.3d 460, 464 (Ala.Crim.App.2012). With these principles in mind we review the issues raised by Woods in his brief to this Court.4 I.Woods first arg......
  • Spencer v. State, CR-12-1837
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • February 26, 2015
    ...may affirm the judgment of the circuit court for any reason, even if not for the reason stated by the circuit court.' Acra v. State, 105 So. 3d 460, 464 (Ala. Crim. App. 2012)." Stallworth v. State, [Ms. CR-09-1433, Nov. 8, 2013] ___ So. 3d ___, ___ (Ala. Crim. App. 2013). "[W]hat......
  • Johnson v. State, CR-05-1805
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • June 14, 2013
    ...correct for any reason, even though it may not be the stated reason, we will not reverse its denial of the petition." Acra v. State, 105 So. 3d 460, 464 (Ala. Crim. App. 2012). 9. Postconviction counsel did present evidence, by way of affidavit, that Yolanda Chambers sought the reward ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • Williams v. State, CR–12–1862.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • April 4, 2014
    ...the rule announced in Miller is retroactive—is a purely legal one; accordingly, our standard of review is de novo. Acra v. State, 105 So.3d 460, 464 (Ala.Crim.App.2012).In Miller, the United States Supreme Court held that "the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life ......
  • Woods v. State, CR–10–0695.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 29, 2016
    ...may affirm the judgment of the circuit court for any reason, even if not for the reason stated by the circuit court." Acra v. State, 105 So.3d 460, 464 (Ala.Crim.App.2012). With these principles in mind we review the issues raised by Woods in his brief to this Court.4 I.Woods first argues t......
  • Spencer v. State, CR-12-1837
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • February 26, 2015
    ...may affirm the judgment of the circuit court for any reason, even if not for the reason stated by the circuit court.' Acra v. State, 105 So. 3d 460, 464 (Ala. Crim. App. 2012)." Stallworth v. State, [Ms. CR-09-1433, Nov. 8, 2013] ___ So. 3d ___, ___ (Ala. Crim. App. 2013). "[W]hat must be a......
  • Johnson v. State, CR-05-1805
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • June 14, 2013
    ...is correct for any reason, even though it may not be the stated reason, we will not reverse its denial of the petition." Acra v. State, 105 So. 3d 460, 464 (Ala. Crim. App. 2012). 9. Postconviction counsel did present evidence, by way of affidavit, that Yolanda Chambers sought the reward mo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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