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State v. Thomas

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 11, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHRISTOPHER JAMES THOMAS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Andrea J. Dryer, Judge.

         Christopher Thomas appeals his conviction for failing to comply with the sex offender registry requirements.

          Kent A. Simmons, Bettendorf, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.

          May, Judge.

         Christopher Thomas contends insufficient evidence supports his conviction for failing to comply with Iowa's sex offender registry requirements. See Iowa Code chapter 692A (2014). We disagree.

         Iowa Code section 692A.104(2) requires a sex offender to appear in person to notify the sheriff "within five business days of changing a residence." Failure to comply is "an aggravated misdemeanor for a first offense." See Iowa Code § 692A.111(1).

         Following a bench trial, the district court found Thomas violated this requirement by "fail[ing] to appear in person to notify the Black Hawk County Sheriff that his residence was no longer [a house on Street B[1] in Waterloo, Iowa." Thomas appeals.

         Thomas does not dispute he is a "sex offender" and, therefore, subject to the requirements of section 692A.104. Instead, Thomas argues there is insufficient evidence he actually "chang[ed] a residence" by moving away from the Street B residence. See Iowa Code § 692A.104(2). Therefore, Thomas suggests, he had no obligation to notify the sheriff.

         "We review sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenges for corrections of errors at law." State v. Coleman, 907 N.W.2d 124, 134 (Iowa 2018) (citation omitted). We will affirm if substantial evidence supports the charge. See State v. Thomas, 847 N.W.2d 438, 442 (Iowa 2014). "Evidence is substantial if it would convince a rational fact finder that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Biddle, 652 N.W.2d 191, 197 (Iowa 2002). "We review the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, including legitimate inferences and presumptions that may fairly and reasonably be deduced from the record evidence." Id.

         The record shows Thomas was paroled in November 2013. Initially, Thomas lived on Street A in Waterloo. In February or March 2014, Thomas moved to the Street B residence. He properly registered the Street B residence with the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Department.

         In May 2014, Thomas told Shawn Chestnut, his parole officer, that he intended to move to a new residence on Street C in Waterloo. On May 6 or 7, Thomas told Chestnut he was "moving today" to Street C. Chestnut authorized the move and updated Thomas's address in the department of corrections database.

         As noted, though, Thomas did not appear at the sheriff's office and give notice of his change of residence. Thomas also stopped complying with his parole requirements. He no longer attended weekly group meetings. His GPS tracker was turned off or lost its charge. Chestnut called and searched for Thomas ...


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