State v. Crockett, 368 N.C. 717 (Mar. 18, 2016)

On discretionary review of a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals, 238 N.C. App. 96 (2014), the court affirmed the defendant’s convictions, finding the evidence sufficient to prove that he failed to register as a sex offender. The defendant was charged with failing to register as a sex offender in two indictments covering separate offense dates. The court held that G.S. 14-208.9, the “change of address” statute, and not G.S. 14-208.7, the “registration” statute, governs the situation when, as here, a sex offender who has already complied with the initial registration requirements is later incarcerated and then released. The court continued, noting that “the facility in which a registered sex offender is confined after conviction functionally serves as that offender’s address.” Turning to the sufficiency the evidence, the court found that as to the first indictment, the evidence was sufficient for the jury to conclude that defendant had willfully failed to provide written notice that he had changed his address from the Mecklenburg County Jail to the Urban Ministry Center. As to the second indictment, the evidence was sufficient for the jury to find that the defendant had willfully changed his address from Urban Ministries to Rock Hill, South Carolina without providing written notice to the Sheriff’s Department. As to this second charge, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that G.S. 14-208.9(a) applies only to in-state address changes. The court also noted that when a registered offender plans to move out of state, appearing in person at the Sheriff’s Department and providing written notification three days before he intends to leave, as required by G.S. 14-208.9(b) would appear to satisfy the requirement in G.S. 14-208.9(a) that he appear in person and provide written notice not later than three business days after the address change. Having affirmed on these grounds, the court declined to address the Court of Appeals’ alternate basis for affirming the convictions: that the Urban Ministry is not a valid address at which the defendant could register because the defendant could not live there.