Peterson v. Shake, No. 2002-SC-0695-MR.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
Writing for the CourtStumbo
Citation120 S.W.3d 707
PartiesMaurice PETERSON, Appellant, v. James SHAKE, Judge, Jefferson Circuit Court, Appellee, and Commonwealth of Kentucky, Real Party in Interest.
Decision Date18 September 2003
Docket NumberNo. 2002-SC-0695-MR.
120 S.W.3d 707
Maurice PETERSON, Appellant,
v.
James SHAKE, Judge, Jefferson Circuit Court, Appellee, and
Commonwealth of Kentucky, Real Party in Interest.
No. 2002-SC-0695-MR.
Supreme Court of Kentucky.
September 18, 2003.
Rehearing Denied December 18, 2003.

Daniel T. Goyette, J. David Niehaus, Office of the Public Defender for Jefferson District Public Defender, Louisville, Counsel for Appellant.

James M. Shake, Hall of Justice, Louisville, Counsel for Appellee.

[120 S.W.3d 708]

A.B. Chandler, III, Attorney General, Frankfort, Jeanne Deborah Anderson, Christie Irene Floyd, Louisville, Counsel for Real Party in Interest.

Opinion of the Court by Justice STUMBO.


Appellant, Maurice Peterson, is a convicted sex offender. Before Appellant was released from prison, he was assessed pursuant to the 1998 version of the Sex Offender Registration Act, KRS 17.500 et seq., and was determined to be a moderate risk sex offender. In addition, before being released back into society, Appellant was required to complete a standard entry form for the sex offender registry. Said form provided that Appellant was to notify law enforcement authorities of any change in address, and further provided that failure to do so was a Class A misdemeanor. He was subsequently released from state custody in June of 1999.

In August of 2001, the Kentucky State Police attempted to contact Appellant by mail in order to verify that Appellant still resided at the same Louisville address on file with the sex offender registry. After two notices were returned indicating that Appellant no longer resided at the address, the police visited the location, and confirmed Appellant did not live there. The authorities eventually found Appellant after it was discovered that he obtained a driver's license using a different Louisville address.

Consequently, in December of 2001, the Jefferson County grand jury issued an indictment against Appellant for providing false, misleading, or incomplete information on a sex offender registration form. Such offense is a Class D felony under the current version of KRS 17.510, enacted in 2000.

Appellant challenged the application of the 2000 version of the statute in the Jefferson Circuit Court. Judge James Shake determined that the 2000 version of KRS 17.510 was applicable to Appellant, and thus, Appellant was subject to prosecution for a Class D felony instead of a Class A misdemeanor.

Appellant petitioned the Court of Appeals for a writ prohibiting further prosecution of the indictment. In an order entered on August 15, 2002, the Court of Appeals denied Appellant's petition. He appeals as a matter of right. CR 76.36(7)(a).

It is clear that Appellant is subject to the 1998 version of the Kentucky Sex Offender Registration Act, as he was released from confinement following its enactment. However, the Commonwealth wishes to prosecute Appellant under the 2000 version. As a result, the primary question with which we are concerned is whether Appellant is subject to prosecution for a Class D felony, under the current version of KRS 17.510, for failing to provide a valid home address to the sex offender registry. After considering all of the pertinent facts, we conclude that Appellant is not.

The 1998 version of KRS 17.510(11) provides that "[a]ny person required to register under this section who violates any of the provisions of this section is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor." The 1998 version of KRS 17.510(12) provides that "[a]ny person required to register under this section who knowingly provides false, misleading, or incomplete information is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor." The current versions of both KRS 17.510(11) and (12), enacted following the adoption of Section 16 of 2000 Ky. Acts, Ch. 401, are identical to the previous 1998 versions, except that "Class D felony" replaces "Class A misdemeanor."

Appellant's contention is that the 2000 version of KRS 17.510 is not applicable to him because the 1998 version was effective

120 S.W.3d 709

at the time he registered with the state sex offender registry.

Section 37 of 2000 Ky. Acts, Ch. 401, provides:

The provisions of Sections 15 to 30 of this Act shall apply to all persons who, after the effective date of this Act are required under Section 16 of this Act to become registrants, as defined in Section 15 of this Act.

The effective date of the 2000 version was April 11, 2000. Appellant argues that he could not have "become" a registrant because he had already been released from prison and further, was already registered as a sex offender prior to April 11, 2000. On the other hand, the Commonwealth argues that the 2000 version applies to Appellant because he satisfies the definition of "registrant," as set forth in the current version of KRS 17.500(4). While Appellant may meet the existing statutory definition of registrant, we do not find that that this controls Appellant's prosecution. Rather, we must look to the intent of the General Assembly when it enacted the 2000 version of the Sex Offender Registration Act.

This Court shall not speculate what the General Assembly may have intended but failed to articulate; instead, we determine the General Assembly's intention "from the words employed in enacting the statute." Commonwealth v. Gaitherwright, Ky., 70 S.W.3d 411, 414 (2002); Gateway Construction Co. v. Wallbaum, Ky., 356 S.W.2d 247, 249 (1962). After examining Section 37, we find no ambiguity with the language therein. It is quite apparent that the 2000 amendments were only intended to apply to persons who were required to become registrants following April 11, 2000. Merriam-Webster defines the word "become" as "to come to exist or occur" or "to emerge as an entity." Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged 195 (1993).

Here Appellant was released from state custody and registered with the sex offender registry in June of 1999. It necessarily follows that Appellant could not have been required to "become" a registrant after April 11, 2000, since he was included in the database of registered sex offenders before that date. In other words, Appellant could not have "become" a registrant, as he already was one. In Wallbaum, supra, our predecessor Court stated that "legislative intent is at best a nebulous will-o'-the-wisp. Far better it is to be guided by the old adage, `Plain words are easiest understood.'" Id. at 249. If it was the intent of the General Assembly to include individuals such as Appellant under the amended 2000 version of KRS 17.510, then it could have exactly said just that. However, such was not expressed. We will not add words to language we deem to be unambiguous. Thus, we hold that Appellant was not among the individuals the General Assembly intended to be subject to the 2000 version of KRS 17.510.

For clarification purposes, we find it necessary to discuss the Commonwealth's reliance on our recent opinion in Martinez v. Commonwealth, Ky., 72 S.W.3d 581 (2002). The Commonwealth asserts that since both the 1998 and 2000 versions of the Sex Offender Registration Statutes were applicable to the appellant in Martinez, the 2000 version must, unavoidably, apply to Appellant. This reasoning is misplaced. Pursuant to the current 2000 version of the statutes, a registrant is required to "register with the appropriate local probation and parole office in the county in which he or she intends to reside" upon his or her release by "the court, the parole board, the cabinet, or any detention facility." KRS 17.510(2). The foregoing language was applicable to the

120 S.W.3d 710

appellant in Martinez because he did not secure his release before such language was enacted. Conversely, Appellant was released from custody in June of 1999, which predates the enactment...

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32 practice notes
  • Hoskins v. Maricle, No. 2002-SC-0579-MR (KY 12/16/2004), No. 2002-SC-0579-MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • December 16, 2004
    ...over the past twenty-three years, has been facially inconsistent with respect to the first issue. Compare, e.g., Peterson v. Shake, Ky., 120 S.W.3d 707, 710 (2003) (though observing that "Appellant has no other adequate remedy at his disposal"), Shamrock Coal Co., Inc. v. Maricle,......
  • Hoskins v. Maricle, No. 2002-SC-0579-MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 26, 2004
    ...over the past twenty-three years, has been facially inconsistent with respect to the first issue. Compare, e.g., Peterson v. Shake, Ky., 120 S.W.3d 707, 710 (2003) (though observing that "Appellant has no other adequate remedy at his disposal"), Shamrock Coal Co., Inc. v. Maricle,......
  • Bradshaw v. State, No. S08A1057.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • November 25, 2008
    ...187 P.3d 1283, 1286 (Kan.2008); In re Derrick B., 39 Cal.4th 535, 47 Cal.Rptr.3d 13, 139 P.3d 485, 491(II) (2006); Peterson v. Shake, 120 S.W.3d 707, 708 (Ky.2003); Gary L. Miller & Joel M. Schumm, Recent Developments in Indiana Criminal Law and Procedure, 30 Ind. L.Rev. 1005, 1008(I)(D......
  • Cosby v. Com., No. 2002-SC-0806-DG.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 26, 2004
    ...should refrain from surmising what the state legislature "may have intended but failed to articulate." Peterson v. Shake, Ky., 120 S.W.3d 707, 709 (2003). However, the intent of the General Assembly with regard to KRS 533.060(3) is patent. The purpose of statutory construction &qu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • Hoskins v. Maricle, No. 2002-SC-0579-MR (KY 12/16/2004), No. 2002-SC-0579-MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • December 16, 2004
    ...over the past twenty-three years, has been facially inconsistent with respect to the first issue. Compare, e.g., Peterson v. Shake, Ky., 120 S.W.3d 707, 710 (2003) (though observing that "Appellant has no other adequate remedy at his disposal"), Shamrock Coal Co., Inc. v. Maricle,......
  • Hoskins v. Maricle, No. 2002-SC-0579-MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 26, 2004
    ...over the past twenty-three years, has been facially inconsistent with respect to the first issue. Compare, e.g., Peterson v. Shake, Ky., 120 S.W.3d 707, 710 (2003) (though observing that "Appellant has no other adequate remedy at his disposal"), Shamrock Coal Co., Inc. v. Maricle,......
  • Bradshaw v. State, No. S08A1057.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • November 25, 2008
    ...187 P.3d 1283, 1286 (Kan.2008); In re Derrick B., 39 Cal.4th 535, 47 Cal.Rptr.3d 13, 139 P.3d 485, 491(II) (2006); Peterson v. Shake, 120 S.W.3d 707, 708 (Ky.2003); Gary L. Miller & Joel M. Schumm, Recent Developments in Indiana Criminal Law and Procedure, 30 Ind. L.Rev. 1005, 1008(I)(D......
  • Cosby v. Com., No. 2002-SC-0806-DG.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
    • August 26, 2004
    ...should refrain from surmising what the state legislature "may have intended but failed to articulate." Peterson v. Shake, Ky., 120 S.W.3d 707, 709 (2003). However, the intent of the General Assembly with regard to KRS 533.060(3) is patent. The purpose of statutory construction &qu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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