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W.J.S. v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas

June 8, 2016

W.J.S. APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE CRAWFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 17JV-12-208] HONORABLE MICHAEL MEDLOCK, JUDGE

          Lisa-Marie Norris, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for appellee.

          M. MICHAEL KINARD, Judge

         W.J.S., a minor, appeals from the trial court's order requiring him to register as a juvenile sex offender. Appellant argues that the State's motion for registration should have been dismissed and that the trial court's decision requiring him to register as a sex offender was clearly erroneous. We find no reversible error on the first point but remand on appellant's second point.

         In August 2012, the State filed a petition alleging that appellant had committed the offense of rape. At an October 2012 adjudication hearing, appellant entered a plea of true to the amended charge of sexual assault in the fourth degree. He was adjudicated delinquent, placed on probation, ordered to complete residential treatment, and ordered to complete a "Community Notification Risk Assessment." The adjudication order stated that a hearing would be set upon completion of the assessment to review the results if deemed necessary.

         Thereafter, the case was periodically reviewed, and appellant's probation was revoked and extended. In July 2015, appellant, then fourteen years old, completed a registration risk assessment at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The assessment recommended that appellant be required to register as a sex offender, and the State subsequently filed a motion requesting that the court order registration.

         At the registration hearing, appellant moved to dismiss the State's motion, arguing that the State did not have standing to bring the motion under the juvenile-registration statute, Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-356 (Repl. 2015). The trial court denied appellant's motion. Helen Chambers, the social worker who completed the assessment, testified about her findings and recommendation. The trial court ruled from the bench that it was ordering registration. The court's written order stated as follows:

The Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that said Juvenile be required to register as a sex offender, based on the seriousness of the offense, the protection of society, the level of planning and participation of the offense, his previous sexual history, the availability of facilities for treatment available to rehabilitate said Juvenile prior to the expiration of the Court's jurisdiction, the sex offender assessment and any other written reports or other materials relating to said Juvenile's mental, physical, educational and social history, and the testimony of Helen Chambers, L.C.S.W.

         Appellant timely appealed.

         Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-27-356 provides in part as follows:

(a) If a juvenile is an adjudicated delinquent for any of the following offenses, the court shall order a sex offender screening and risk assessment:
(1)Rape, § 5-14-103;
(2)Sexual assualt in the first degree, § 5-14-124;
(3)Sexual assault in the second degree, ยง ...

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