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Healey v. Carter

Court of Appeals of Indiana

August 21, 2018

Nathan Healey, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
Robert Carter, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Corrections, et al., Appellees-Respondents.

          Appeal from the Steuben Circuit Court The Honorable Allen N. Wheat, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 76C01-1705-MI-116

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Michael D. Dean Gibson Law Office Lafayette, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE ROBERT CARTER: Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Frances Barrow Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          CASE SUMMARY AND ISSUE

          Robb, Judge.

         [¶1] Nathan Healey pleaded guilty to criminal confinement, a Class D felony. Following his release from the Indiana Department of Correction ("DOC"), the DOC required Healey to register as a sex offender, even though Healey did not plead to the circumstances in which criminal confinement constitutes a sex offense. Having registered as a sex offender in the years since his release, Healey brought this declaratory judgment action seeking relief from the DOC's determination that he must register as a sex offender. The trial court denied Healey's petition along with a subsequent motion to correct errors. Healey now appeals raising the sole issue of whether the trial court erred in denying his petition for declaratory relief. Concluding the trial court did not err, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On July 4, 2007, Healey was charged with criminal confinement against a child, a Class C felony, and battery against a child resulting in bodily injury, a Class D felony. Seventeen months later, an additional count was added to the information charging Healey with criminal confinement, a Class D felony. In May 2009, Healey pleaded guilty to criminal confinement, a Class D felony, and, pursuant to the written plea agreement, the remaining charges were dismissed. Healey was sentenced to three years with all but 270 days suspended.

         [¶3] After Healey served his executed sentence, the DOC required him to register as a sex offender for life because the victim of Healey's offense was less than "twelve (12) years of age at the time of the crime." Ind. Code § 11-8-8-19(c) (2007); see Appellant's Second Amended Appendix, Volume 2 at 16. Healey registered on June 16, 2009.

         [¶4] On May 3, 2017, Healey filed a verified petition for declaratory relief, asking to be relieved of his duty to register as a sex offender because he never pleaded to the age of the victim. Healey named the commissioner of the DOC, Robert Carter; the Steuben County prosecutor; and the Steuben County sheriff as respondents. Carter responded to Healey's petition through counsel, the Indiana Attorney General, seeking dismissal, or in the alternative, denial of relief.[1]

         [¶5] The parties waived a formal evidentiary hearing and instead submitted a joint stipulation of facts to the trial court. On September 6, 2017, the trial court issued its Order:

1. On December 30, 2008 Healey was charged with having committed the offense of criminal confinement as set forth at Ind. Code 35-42-3-3(a)(1), a Class D Felony.
2. The crime for which Healey was charged with having committed [sic] occurred on July 4, 2007.
3. On July 4, 2007, Ind. Code 35-42-3-3(a)(1) provided as follows:
"(a) A person who knowingly or intentionally: (1) confines another person without the other person's consent; …commits criminal confinement. Except as provided in subsection (b), the offense of criminal confinement is a Class D Felony."
4. The criminal charge identified the victim as "Z.M." The age of Z.M. was not set forth in the criminal charge.
5. On July 4, 2007, Ind. Code 11-8-8-4.5 set forth those crimes for which if a person should be convicted of having committed [sic] would mandate the person to register as a sex offender.
6. Ind. Code 11-8-8-4.5(12) provided as follows:
"(12) Criminal confinement (IC 35-42-3-3), if the victim is less than eighteen (18) years of age, and the person who confined or removed the victim is not the victim's parent or guardian."
7. On May 9, 2009, Healey entered a plea of guilty to having committed the offense of criminal confinement as charged under the provisions of Ind. Code 35-42-3-3(a)(1), and thereafter was sentenced in accordance with his Plea Agreement.
8. Healey does not contend that he was unaware of the fact that the victim of his crime was under the age of eighteen (18) years. Further, Healey does not contend that he was the parent or guardian of Z.M.
9. Healey argues that requiring him to register as a sex offender is a penalty or punishment that is based upon a fact to which he did not plead guilty.
10.It is true that the State's charging information regarding Count III was silent as to the age of Z.M., and to his relationship to Z.M.
11.Ind. Code 35-42-3-3(a)(1) does not set forth the age of the victim as an element of the offense which must be proven by the State by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
12.Ind. Code 35-42-3-3(a)(1) does not set forth the relationship of the Defendant to the victim as being an element of the offense of criminal confinement which must be proven by the State by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
13.In the case of Nichols v. State, 947 N.E.2d 1011 (Ind. [Ct.] App. 2011) the Court at page 1017 held:
"The Sex Offender Registration Act requires that the DOC maintain a registry of sex offenders, and requires that offenders register with the Department. Placement on the Registry is mandatory, and the Act affords neither the trial court nor the DOC any discretion in the matter of the registration requirement. …Plea agreements have no effect ...

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