Lifetime GPS monitoring requires showing, finding of recidivism – N.C. Court of Appeals

State v. Springle.

Defendant was indicted for indecent exposure in 2013 and pled guilty in 2014. During his sentencing, the judge noted that he was a recidivist and therefore subject to satellite-based monitoring. On the administrative form for recording the order, however, he didn’t check all the right boxes. A footnote explains:

Judge Alford checked the box on form AOC-CR-803C titled “Special Conditions For Reportable Convictions – G.S. 15A-1343(b2),” which notes that defendant must “[r]egister as a sex offender and enroll in satellite-based monitoring if required on the attached AOC-CR-615, Side Two.” However, Judge Alford did not complete the corresponding form AOC-CR-615, rather Judge Jenkins did. Judge Jenkins made the finding that defendant is a recidivist and ordered that defendant register as a sex offender for his natural life and enroll in satellite-based monitoring for his natural life.

In the hearing with Judge Jenkins, no evidence of recidivism (i.e., no specific prior act) was presented to the court. Defense counsel indicated there was no dispute, and the order was entered.

The North Carolina Supreme Court has stated that the requirement of making findings of fact is not a “mere formality” or an “empty ritual.” Coble v. Coble, 300 N.C. 708, 712, 268 S.E.2d 185, 189 (1980). Rather, the trial court must make findings of fact that are both “detailed” and “specific.” Id. “Evidence must support findings; findings must support conclusions; conclusions must support the judgment. Each step of the progression must be taken by the trial judge, in logical sequence; each link in the chain of reasoning must appear in the order itself.” Id. at 714, 268 S.E.2d at 190.

In short, where there is a prior, out of state conviction, there has to be a finding that the prior conviction is reportable and substantially similar to the in state conviction. Here, there was not. There also was not any finding that the prior conviction was a sex offense.

The Court of Appeals remanded to the trial court for resentencing. My guess is that the resentencing will involve a thorough discussion of the defendant’s convictions in Florida and South Carolina…