State Has Burden to Prove Sex Offender Knowingly Failed to Register

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District handed down its decision in State v. Wilder, No. SD33140.

The court held that because the man was never notified of his obligation under Missouri law to register as a sex offender that the State had not proved he knowingly failed to register.

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Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District

A man was convicted of rape in 1979 in California and in 1984 notified in California of his obligation under California law to register as a sex offender.  He served his time in a California prison and then moved to Missouri in 1985.  Missouri had no requirement for sex offenders to register until 1997.  The man was never notified in Missouri of his obligation under Missouri law to register as a sex offender.  The man was arrested for a subsequent alleged rape in 2010 in Missouri and convicted in Missouri for failure to register as a sex offender.

The court held that because the man was never notified of his obligation under Missouri law to register as a sex offender that the State had not proved he knowingly failed to register.  Failure to register was held not to be a strict liability crime and the element of “knowingly” must be proved by the State beyond a reasonable doubt.  The case was reversed and remanded to the trial court with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal.

 

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