Tyson v. State

Decision Date25 February 2016
Docket NumberNo. 45S03–1509–CR–528.,45S03–1509–CR–528.
Citation51 N.E.3d 88
Parties Sidney Lamour TYSON, Appellant (Defendant below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Kristin A. Mulholland, LeBlanc & Mulholland LLC, Crown Point, IN, Attorney for Appellant.

Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, J.T. Whitehead, Kyle Hunter, Deputy Attorneys General, Attorneys for Appellee.

On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 45A03–1405–CR–143

MASSA, Justice.

Sidney Lamour Tyson is charged with failing to register as a sex offender in Indiana, the basis of that requirement being his obligation to register in Texas because of a delinquency adjudication. Tyson has moved to dismiss that charge, arguing he does not fit our statutory definition of a sex offender under Indiana Code section 11–8–8–5(b), and alternatively, his duty to register upon moving to Indiana violates our Ex Post Facto Clause as applied to him since the definition was amended after he committed the underlying offense. Because Tyson is required to register in another state, we find he satisfies our statutory definition, and he must do so here. And, holding today that maintaining a registry requirement across state lines does not amount to a punitive burden, we see no ex post facto violation. We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

In Texas in 2002, then-thirteen-year-old Sidney Tyson was adjudicated delinquent for aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child, and he was required to register there as a sex offender until 2014. Although at the time of his offense, he would not have had to register in Indiana if he moved here, in 2006 our law changed: the legislature amended the Sex Offender Registry Act's definition of sex offender to include “a person who is required to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction.” 2006 Ind. Acts 2318. In 2009, Tyson moved to Indiana; a few years later a police officer pulled him over for driving with an expired plate and discovered Tyson was required to (and did) register as a sex offender in Texas but had not registered here.

The State charged Tyson with Class D felony failure to register as a sex offender. He moved to dismiss that charge, arguing that enforcing the registry requirement constituted an ex post facto violation since his offense occurred before the change to the definition of sex offender took effect. After a hearing, the trial court denied his motion.

Tyson filed an interlocutory appeal, and in a unanimous opinion, our Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court. Tyson v. State, 28 N.E.3d 1074, 1075 (Ind.Ct.App.2015). The panel reasoned that the underlying purpose of our Ex Post Facto Clause is to ensure fair warning of what conduct will result in criminal procedures, and here, Tyson had sufficient warning: when he moved to Indiana, the amendment requiring his registration had been on the books for three years. Id. at 1076–77. Moreover, because he was already required to register in Texas until 2014, the panel found he merely remained a sex offender upon relocation; he did not become one by operation of the amendment. Id. at 1077. Tyson sought transfer, arguing the relevant date for the ex post facto analysis is the commission of the offense, not relocation.

We granted Tyson's petition, thereby vacating the opinion below. Tyson v. State, 37 N.E.3d 493 (Ind.2015) (table); Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).

Standard of Review

Tyson's appeal arises from the denial of his motion to dismiss the criminal charge against him, which we generally review for an abuse of discretion. Tiplick v. State, 43 N.E.3d 1259, 1262 (Ind.2015). But where, as here, the arguments presented are questions of law, we consider them de novo. Study v. State, 24 N.E.3d 947, 950 (Ind.), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 412, 193 L.Ed.2d 325 (2015). First, Tyson contends the plain meaning of the statutory definition of “sex or violent offender” does not include him; we review such matters of statutory interpretation without deferring to the resolution below. Id. Second, if Tyson does fit the statutory definition, he claims the registry requirement is an ex post facto violation as applied to him; likewise, we review questions of constitutionality afresh. Zoeller v. Sweeney, 19 N.E.3d 749, 751 (Ind.2014). As the party challenging the statute, Tyson bears the burden of proof and all doubts are resolved against him. Jensen v. State, 905 N.E.2d 384, 390 (Ind.2009). Unlike a facial challenge, however, he need only show the statute is unconstitutional “on the facts of [the] particular case.” Meredith v. Pence, 984 N.E.2d 1213, 1218 n. 6 (Ind.2013).

Tyson Is a “Sex or Violent Offender” Pursuant to Our Statutory Definition.

Indiana Code section 11–8–8–5 (Supp.2015) defines “sex or violent offender” in two parts. Subsection (a) lists twenty sex crimes in our Indiana Code that, if convicted of any one of them, result in such a classification; subsection (b) adds, “the term includes”:

(1) a person who is required to register as a sex or violent offender in any jurisdiction; and
(2) a child who has committed a delinquent act and who:
(A) is at least fourteen (14) years of age;
(B) is on probation, is on parole, is discharged from a facility by the department of correction, is discharged from a secure private facility (as defined in IC 31–9–2–115 ), or is discharged from a juvenile detention facility as a result of an adjudication as a delinquent child for an act that would be an offense described in subsection (a) if committed by an adult; and
(C) is found by a court by clear and convincing evidence to be likely to repeat an act that would be an offense described in subsection (a) if committed by an adult.

Tyson argues he does not fit within this framework because subsection (b)(2) restricts the definition. More specifically, Tyson contends the statute requires a sex offender be someone (1) who is required to register elsewhere and (2) who is a child that committed a delinquent act and (3) who is at least fourteen years old; “by simple statutory construction ... with that conjunction ‘and,’ he has to be a child who is over the age of fourteen years.” Oral Arg. Video at 2:20–54, 4:35–59. We disagree.

In construing a statute, we give unambiguous words their plain and ordinary meaning. State v. Am. Family Voices, Inc., 898 N.E.2d 293, 297 (Ind.2008). We also examine the structure of the statute as a whole. City of Indianapolis v. Ingram, 176 Ind.App. 645, 657, 377 N.E.2d 877, 884 (1978) ; see also City of Carmel v. Steele, 865 N.E.2d 612, 618 (Ind.2007) ; Russell v. Russell 682 N.E.2d 513, 517 (Ind.1997). Utilizing those canons, we find subsection (b) expands the definition of sex offender by adding that “the term includes” two classes of individuals, the first being persons required to register in another state under (b)(1) and the second being children adjudicated delinquent under (b)(2). The word “and” connecting (b)(1) and (b)(2) does not mean both conditions are required, but merely means both classes are “include[d].” With (b)(1) and (b)(2) as two independent bases for meeting the definition, we find the heightened protections laid out in (b)(2)(A), (b)(2)(B), and (b)(2)(C)—including the minimum age Tyson urges should protect him—apply only to the subsection in which they appear, (b)(2).

Moreover, we agree with the State that reading subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2)(A)-(C) together as one list of requirements would lead to an absurd result. Doing so would exclude all adult offenders who are required to register in another state because they fail Tyson's second element—being a child. And a child at least fourteen years old adjudicated delinquent for a sex offense with all of Indiana's statutory protections afforded to him or her would similarly be excluded for not meeting Tyson's first element—being required to register elsewhere. We decline to interpret the statute in a way that undermines its clear purpose “to protect the public.” Wallace v. State, 905 N.E.2d 371, 383 (Ind.2009) ; see also Cooper Indus., LLC v. City of S. Bend, 899 N.E.2d 1274, 1283 (Ind.2009) (We presume the legislature intended the language used in the statute to be applied logically, consistent with the statute's underlying policy and goals, and not in a manner that would bring about an unjust or absurd result.”). Thus, an individual may be a “sex or violent offender” by satisfying either (b)(1) or (b)(2).

It is undisputed that, when Tyson was stopped by police in 2012, he was required to register as a sex offender in Texas. Tex.Code Crim. Proc. Ann. arts. 62.002(a) (West 2005); 62.101(c)(1) (West 2010). He was therefore a “sex or violent offender” pursuant to our statutory definition set forth in Indiana Code section 11–8–8–5(b)(1).

The Statute Poses No Ex Post Facto Violation as Applied to Tyson.

As a sex offender living in Indiana, our Sex Offender Registration Act mandated that Tyson register here for the duration of his Texas requirement. Ind.Code § 11–8–8–7(a), –19(f). Tyson asserts that, as applied to him, this obligation violates Indiana's prohibition against ex post facto laws because at the time he committed the underlying offense, our statutory definition had not yet been amended to include him.

Both the United States and Indiana Constitutions prohibit laws that impose punishment beyond what was prescribed at the time the act was committed. Wallace, 905 N.E.2d at 377 (citing Weaver v. Graham, 450 U.S. 24, 28, 101 S.Ct. 960, 67 L.Ed.2d 17 (1981) ). The principle fundamental to this prohibition is that people have a right to fair warning of the criminal penalties that may result from their conduct. Id. Specifically, our Constitution provides, “No ex post facto law ... shall ever be passed.” Ind. Const. art. 1, § 24. And its federal counterpart similarly states, “No state shall ... pass any ... ex post facto law[.] U.S. Const. art. I, § 10. Despite parallel language, we have recognized our State Constitution possesses a “unique vitality.” State...

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