State v. Serpa, 052418 NHSC, 2017-0143

Docket Nº:2017-0143
Opinion Judge:LYNN, C.J.
Party Name:THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE v. BAILEY P. SERPA
Attorney:Gordon J. MacDonald, attorney general (Sean R. Locke, assistant attorney general, on the memorandum of law and orally), for the State. Samdperil & Welsh, PLLC, of Exeter (Richard E. Samdperil on the brief and orally), for the defendant.
Judge Panel:HICKS, BASSETT and HANTZ MARCONI, JJ., concurred.
Case Date:May 24, 2018
Court:Superior Court of New Hampshire
SUMMARY

Defendant Bailey Serpa appealed a superior court order requiring him to register as a sexual offender. On appeal, defendant argued registration as a sexual offender for a conviction of violating RSA 649-B:4 was contrary to the manifest objectives of RSA 632-A:4 and violated constitutional requirements that all penalties be proportional to the offense. Finding no reversible error, the New... (see full summary)

 
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THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

v.

BAILEY P. SERPA

No. 2017-0143

Supreme Court of New Hampshire, Strafford

May 24, 2018

Argued: January 18, 2018

Gordon J. MacDonald, attorney general (Sean R. Locke, assistant attorney general, on the memorandum of law and orally), for the State.

Samdperil & Welsh, PLLC, of Exeter (Richard E. Samdperil on the brief and orally), for the defendant.

LYNN, C.J.

The defendant, Bailey P. Serpa, appeals an order of the Superior Court (Howard, J.), requiring him to register as a sexual offender. On appeal, the defendant argues that registration as a sexual offender for a conviction of violating RSA 649-B:4 is contrary to the manifest objectives of RSA 632-A:4 and violates constitutional requirements that all penalties be proportional to the offense. We affirm.

The pertinent facts follow. In March 2015, the defendant was indicted on a charge of using a computer online service or internet service to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to engage in sexual assault, contrary to RSA 649-B:4 (2016). At the time of the underlying conduct, the victim was 15 years old, and the defendant was 18 years old.

The defendant entered into a written felony diversion agreement (diversion agreement) with the State. Pursuant to the diversion agreement, the State would dismiss the charge against the defendant if he abided by several conditions for a period of 18 months. However, if the defendant violated the terms of the diversion agreement, he agreed to waive his right to a jury trial and plead guilty to violating RSA 649-B:4 in return for the State recommending that he receive a six-month house of correction sentence, suspended for two years under specified conditions.

Among other conditions, the diversion agreement required the defendant to "commit no new crimes and be of good behavior for the period of the diversion program." (Quotation and brackets omitted.) The diversion agreement further provided that "being of good behavior means that the defendant shall not be charged with any misdemeanor or felony crimes during the duration of this agreement." (Quotation omitted.)

In June 2016, the defendant was charged with seven crimes stemming from at least two incidents in which he allegedly stole items from a Wal-Mart store. The State learned of the charges and requested that the trial court schedule a plea and sentencing hearing. Over the defendant's objection, the trial court scheduled a plea and sentencing hearing. At the hearing, the defendant complied with the diversion agreement and pled guilty to the indictment. The State recommended the sentence provided for by the diversion agreement, and the trial court imposed that sentence. The trial court then notified the defendant that he was required to register as a sexual offender. This appeal followed.

The defendant first argues that New Hampshire law does not require "an 18 year old who uses a computer as a medium to propose sex with a 15 year old" to "register as a sex offender."

Resolving this issue requires us to engage in statutory interpretation. "The interpretation of a statute is a question of law, which we review de novo." State v. Fiske, 170 N.H. 279, 288 (2017) (quotation omitted). "In matters of statutory interpretation, we are the final arbiters of the intent of the legislature as expressed in the words of a statute considered as a whole." Id. at 288-89...

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