Appeal from Cowlitz Superior Court. Docket No: 12-1-00431-2. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 09/19/2013. Judge signing: Honorable Michael H Evans.
Jodi R. Backlund and Skylar T. Brett (of Backlund & Mistry ), for appellant.
Ryan P. Jurvakainen, Prosecuting Attorney, and Sean M. Brittain, Deputy, for respondent.
Authored by Lisa Worswick. Concurring: Lisa Sutton, Rich Melnick.
[185 Wn.App. 948] ¶ 1 Following a bench trial, the trial court found Christopher Roy Smith guilty of failure to register as a sex offender. Smith appeals his conviction, asserting that the sex offender registration statute, RCW 9A.44.130, is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to him because the statute is overbroad and burdens his fundamental right to travel. Smith also asserts that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to support his conviction. Because the sex offender registration statute is constitutional and sufficient evidence supports Smith's conviction, we affirm.
¶ 2 Smith has previously been convicted of a sex offense, which conviction required Smith to register his residence under RCW 9A.44.130. Smith registered his Longview, Washington, residence with the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office in December 2006. In November 2011, the sheriff's office received a letter signed by Smith stating that he was [185 Wn.App. 949] providing notice of his change of address from a location on Rose Place in Longview to a location on 9th Avenue in Longview. The sheriff's office sex offender registration clerk, Kristine Taff, completed a change of address form for Smith after receiving the letter.
¶ 3 On March 8, 2012, Longview Police Department investigator Olga Lozano went to the 9th Avenue address to verify that Smith was living at his registered residence.
When Lozano arrived at the 9th Avenue address, she saw that the house was vacant and that a rental sign was placed in front of the house. Based on Lozano's investigation, the State charged Smith with failure to register as a sex offender.
¶ 4 At the bench trial, Taff testified that there are two ways in which an offender may register a change of address: either by coming to the sheriff's office in person or by sending a signed and dated " certified return receipt requested letter that includes their old address and their new address." Report of Proceedings at 16. On cross-examination, Taff testified that she informs every offender that he or she must submit a certified return receipt letter in order to register a change of address by mail. She further testified on cross-examination that she registered Smith's change of address after the sheriff's office received his November 2011 letter.
¶ 5 Lozano testified that she contacted the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office after finding that Smith was not residing at his registered address on 9th Avenue. Lozano did not testify that she went to Smith's prior address on Rose Place to see if he still resided there.
¶ 6 Troy Savelli, the property manager of the 9th Avenue house, testified that someone named Aaron Weatherly had rented the 9th Avenue house in November 2011. Savelli also testified that Smith was not on the lease and was not permitted to reside at the house. Savelli further testified that although Smith was not permitted to reside at the house, he had seen Smith at the house on a few occasions. [185 Wn.App. 950] Savelli stated that Weatherly and Smith vacated the property in December 2011, after he evicted them for failing to pay rent. Savelli also stated that the house remained vacant from December 2011 until March 28, 2012, the date he rented it to a different tenant.
¶ 7 The trial court found Smith guilty of failure to register as a sex offender and later entered the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
Findings of Fact
1. On December 14, 2006, based upon a conviction for a sex offense, the Defendant registered with the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) as a sex offender.
2. On November 10, 2011, the CCSO received a certified letter from the Defendant. The letter informed CCSO that the Defendant was changing his registered address from 2240 Rose Place, Longview, WA to 1111 9th Ave, ...