A. M. APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE HOWARD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 31JV-14-12]
HONORABLE CHARLES A. YEARGAN, JUDGE
D. Watson, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brett D. Watson, for
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE
appeals a Howard County Circuit Court order requiring him to
register as a sex offender. Because the trial court failed to
make written findings on the statutory factors when ordering
registration, we reverse and remand for reconsideration of
the registration issue.
March 2014, the Crimes against Children Division of the
Arkansas State Police received a referral regarding possible
inappropriate contact between fifteen-year-old A.M. and his
five-year-old male cousin, K.B.1. During the course of the
investigation into that incident, K.B.1's seven-year-old
sister, K.B.2, revealed that A.M. had once placed his penis
in her mouth. A.M. denied the allegations.
on the allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with
K.B.2, the State filed a petition alleging that A.M. should
be adjudged a juvenile delinquent for committing rape in
violation of Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-14-103 (Supp.
2017), a Class Y felony. After a bench trial in July 2015,
the Howard County Circuit Court made a delinquency finding,
concluding that A.M. had committed the lesser-included
offense of second-degree sexual assault and committed him to
the Division of Youth Services (DYS). In September 2016, the
court ordered that A.M. undergo a registration risk
assessment through the Family Treatment Program of UAMS. UAMS
subsequently issued a report which indicated that it did not
recommend that A.M. be ordered to register as a sex offender.
2017, the court ordered A.M. to serve six months'
probation upon his release from DYS and to obtain an updated
registration report. An amended order was entered on October
25, 2017, ordering UAMS to complete a juvenile-sex-offender
screening and risk assessment. Again, UAMS issued a report
that recommended against a registration order.
the State did not file a formal motion to seek a registration
order, the court conducted a hearing on the issue of
registration. At this hearing, the court orally expressed its
concern that A.M. was still denying his responsibility for
the sexual offenses. The court entered an amended disposition
order requiring A.M. to register as a sex offender. The order
did not contain any written findings regarding the statutory
factors the court must consider when determining the
propriety of registration.
now appeals the order requiring him to register as a sex
offender, arguing that the trial court (1) failed to issue
written findings as required by statute; (2) improperly
considered his continued denials of misconduct; and (3)
lacked authority to enter the order because no formal motion
seeking same was ever filed. We first address A.M.'s last
argument regarding the trial court's authority to require
argues that the trial court lacked the authority to enter the
registration order because the statute contemplates the State
filing a motion seeking registration. See Ark. Code
Ann. § 9-27-356(d) (Repl. 2015). A.M. did not make this
argument below and thus cannot raise it on appeal unless his
claim is one of subject-matter jurisdiction. It is well
settled that with the notable exception of matters involving
subject-matter jurisdiction, we will not consider issues
raised for the first time on appeal, even where the issue is
a matter of constitutional magnitude. See Turnbough v.
Mammoth Spring Sch. Dist. No. 2, 349 Ark. 341, 345-46,
78 S.W.3d 89, 92 (2002). A.M. recognizes that this argument
was not raised below but contends that it is an issue of
subject-matter jurisdiction and can be raised here for the
first time on appeal. We disagree.
courts have recognized a distinction between "want of
jurisdiction to adjudicate a matter and a determination of
whether the jurisdiction should be exercised." State
v. D.S., 2011 Ark. 45, at 6 n.2, 378 S.W.3d 87,
90 n.2 (quoting Young v. Smith, 331 Ark. 525, 529,
964 S.W.2d 784, 786 (1998)).
Jurisdiction of the subject matter is power lawfully
conferred on a court to adjudge matters concerning the
general question in controversy. It is power to act on the
general cause of action alleged and to determine whether the
particular facts call for the exercise of that power. Subject
matter jurisdiction does not depend on a correct exercise of
that power in any particular case. If the court errs in its
decision or proceeds irregularly within its assigned
jurisdiction, the remedy is by appeal or direct action in the
erring court. If it was within the court's jurisdiction
to act upon the subject matter, that action is binding until
reversed or set aside.
Young, 331 Ark. at 529, 964 S.W.2d at 786 (quoting
Banning v. State, 22 Ark.App. 144, 149, 737 S.W.2d
167, 170 (1987)). Although failure to follow the statutory
procedure in the exercise of this power constitutes
reversible error, it does not oust the jurisdiction of the
court. Noble v. ...