State v. Knowels, 20010147.

Citation643 N.W.2d 20,2002 ND 62
Decision Date16 April 2002
Docket NumberNo. 20010147.,20010147.
PartiesSTATE of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Daniel Joseph KNOWELS, Defendant and Appellant
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Dakota

643 N.W.2d 20
2002 ND 62

STATE of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
Daniel Joseph KNOWELS, Defendant and Appellant

No. 20010147.

Supreme Court of North Dakota.

April 16, 2002.


643 N.W.2d 21
Peter D. Welte (on brief), Assistant State's Attorney, and Ronald K. Hettich (on brief), third-year law student, Grand Forks, for plaintiff and appellee

DeWayne A. Johnston, Grand Forks, for defendant and appellant.

KAPSNER, Justice.

[¶ 1] Daniel Knowels appeals from a judgment of conviction for failure to register as a sex offender under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-15. Because the culpable mental state for failure to register as a sex offender is "willfully," we conclude the trial court committed obvious error in finding Knowels guilty of failure to register as a sex offender, and reverse the conviction.

I

[¶ 2] Knowels is required to register as a sex offender. Knowels registered with the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department on December 19, 1996. His initial registered address was S-69 Ack's Trailer Court, Emerado. Emerado did not have a working registry in 1996. Though the exact date is not clear from the record, Knowels subsequently moved to S-11 Ack's Trailer Court. Knowels was charged with failure to register as a sex offender within the statutory period following his change of address.

[¶ 3] At the bench trial, Knowels testified he went to the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department during his move to register his new address. A sheriff's deputy testified regarding a "yellow sticky" note found in Knowels' records listing the new S-11 address as of April 2, 1999. Two letters were introduced as exhibits, one certified and one not, sent from the Attorney General's office to Knowels' S-11 address. These letters, one sent in April of 1999 and the other sent in October of 2000, directed Knowels to register with the Emerado Police Department, which now had a working registry. Knowels testified he never received either letter. Knowels eventually registered with the Emerado Police Department on January 11, 2001. At the bench trial in April 2001, the trial court treated the offense as one of strict liability and found Knowels guilty of failure to register as a sex offender, but also found his failure was not "willful."

[¶ 4] On appeal, Knowels argues there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of the offense. He argues subsection 2 of N.D.C.C. § 12.1-02-02 should be applied to the registration statute. The subsection specifies "[i]f a statute or regulation thereunder defining a crime does not specify any culpability and does not provide explicitly that a person may be guilty without

643 N.W.2d 22
culpability, the culpability that is required is willfully." Knowels argues application of this subsection would preclude a finding of guilt because the trial court found he did not "willful[ly]" violate the statute. The State argues the trial court's application of subsection 5 of N.D.C.C. § 12.1-02-02 to the sex offender registration statute to conclude the offense was strict liability was correct. Alternatively, the State argues Knowels waived his argument because he failed to object to the trial court's interpretation and application of the statute

II

[¶ 5] Under North Dakota sex offender registration law, an individual who is required to register must do so within ten days of a change in address. N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-15(7). The sex offender registration law in force at the time provided:

An individual required to register under this section who violates this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. A court may not relieve an individual, other than a juvenile, who willfully violates this section from serving a term of at least ninety days in jail and completing probation of one year. An individual who violates this section who previously has pled guilty or been found guilty of violating this section is guilty of a class C felony.

Id. § 12.1-32-15(9).1 The trial court interpreted N.D.C.C. § 12.1-32-15(9) as a strict liability offense, with the "willfully violates" language applicable only when imposing sentence:

The registration requirements of N.D.C.C. [§] 12.1-32-15 do not require any specific culpability by the defendant to be found guilty ... The conduct itself constitutes the offense.... Therefore, the State is not required to show any willfulness or intent on the part of the defendant to sustain the defendant's guilt.
...

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10 cases
  • State v. Blunt, 20090110.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • 16 Julio 2010
    ...Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws (1970) (" Working Papers "). State v. Stensaker, 2007 ND 6, ¶ 9, 725 N.W.2d 883; State v. Knowels, 2002 ND 62, ¶ 9, 643 N.W.2d 20. The official commentary to the proposedFederal Criminal Code and the Working Papers are persuasive in interpreting......
  • State v. Borner, 20120388.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • 25 Septiembre 2013
    ...are guided by both the drafter's official comments to the proposed Federal Criminal Code and the relevant legislative history.” State v. Knowels, 2002 ND 62, ¶ 9, 643 N.W.2d 20;see State v. Bower, 442 N.W.2d 438, 440 (N.D.1989); State v. Haugen, 392 N.W.2d 799, 804 (N.D.1986). [¶ 11] Sectio......
  • People v. Kadell, Court of Appeals No. 13CA2021
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 5 Octubre 2017
    ...Thompson , 244 Neb. 375, 507 N.W.2d 253, 270 (1993) ; State v. Houghton , 168 N.H. 269, 126 A.3d 312, 315-16 (2015) ; State v. Knowels , 643 N.W.2d 20, 21-23 (N.D. 2002) ; State v. Serrano , 355 Or. 172, 324 P.3d 1274, 1279-80 (2014) ; State v. Holgate , 10 P.3d 346, 350-51 (Utah 2000). But......
  • State v. Backlund, 20030044.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • 2 Diciembre 2003
    ...it is a strict liability offense, and the requisite culpability for the conduct proscribed by that statute is "willfully." See State v. Knowels, 2002 ND 62, ¶¶ 12-13, 643 N.W.2d [¶ 7] We therefore construe N.D.C.C. § 12.1-20-05.1 to provide that an adult is guilty of luring a minor by compu......
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