[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 13-3350, DIVISION " C" . HONORABLE JUNE B. DARENSBURG, JUDGE PRESIDING.
PAUL D. CONNICK, JR., DISTRICT ATTORNEY, TERRY M. BOUDREAUX, GAIL D. SCHLOSSER, JOSHUA VANDERHOOFT, SETH W. SHUTE, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, Twenty-Fourth Judicial District, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR THE STATE OF LOUISIANA.
TERESA CULPEPPER CARROLL, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Jonesboro, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.
Panel composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Robert A. Chaisson, and Hans J. Liljeberg.
HANS J. LILJEBERG,
[14-642 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] Defendant seeks review of his conviction and sentence for failure to register as a sex offender in violation of La. R.S. 15:542. For the following reasons, we affirm.
On August 16, 2013, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office filed a bill of information charging defendant, Denis Flores, with failure to register as a sex offender in violation of La. R.S. 15:542. On August 19, 2013, defendant pleaded not guilty at arraignment. Thereafter, defendant filed omnibus motions, including a motion to declare La. C.Cr.P. art. 782 unconstitutional, which the trial court denied. On February 12, 2014, after a two-day trial, a 12-person jury found defendant guilty as charged. On March 21, 2014, the trial court denied defendant's motions for post-judgment verdict of acquittal and new trial. The trial court thereafter sentenced defendant to imprisonment at hard labor for a term of three years to be served without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.
[14-642 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] The State filed a multiple bill of information alleging defendant to be a third felony offender. On March 31, 2014, following a hearing, the trial court adjudicated defendant a third felony offender. The trial court vacated defendant's original sentence and resentenced him pursuant to La. R.S. 15:529.1 to eight years imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The trial court ordered that the sentence run concurrently with any other sentence defendant was serving. On that date, the trial court granted defendant's timely motion for appeal. Defendant's appeal follows.
Officer Brad Thibodeaux of the Gretna Police Department testified at trial that on May 27, 2013, he arrested defendant for having an open alcoholic container in public. Defendant initially identified himself to Officer Thibodeaux as " Ariel Silva; " however, upon being processed into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center (" JPCC" ), he identified himself as " Daniel Lobo." Defendant was thereafter released. Subsequently, on June 7, 2013, JPCC notified Officer Thibodeaux that defendant's fingerprints revealed defendant's identity as Denis Flores. At that time, Officer Thibodeaux issued an arrest warrant for defendant in his proper name. On June 24, 2013, Officer Thibodeaux again came into contact with defendant when he again observed defendant with an open alcoholic container in public. This time, defendant identified himself to Officer Thibodeaux as " Daniel Lobo." Officer Thibodeaux recognized defendant as Denis Flores, confirmed that his arrest warrant was still valid, and placed defendant under arrest on the open warrant, as well as public intoxication and resisting arrest by failing to identify himself. Officer Thibodeaux further testified that at all times during all interactions with defendant, defendant understood the English language and [14-642 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] responded in the English language. At no time did Officer Thibodeaux feel that he needed to request the assistance of a Spanish-speaking officer.
Deputy Christopher Ohlmeyer of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office testified that he was working at JPCC on May 27, 2013. Deputy Ohlmeyer testified that on that date, he processed defendant as " Ariel Silva." Upon doing so, Deputy Ohlmeyer became aware that " Ariel Silva" was a sex offender. Accordingly, Deputy Ohlmeyer filled out an Acknowledgement of Registration for Sex Offenders with defendant, further explaining to defendant that he had three days to register as a sex offender. Deputy Ohlmeyer testified that defendant signed the form as " Ariel Silva" and was given a copy of the form upon his release. Deputy Ohlmeyer additionally testified that defendant conversed with him in English.
Lieutenant Luis Munguia of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office testified that as Commander of the Fingerprint Identification Division, he is in charge of the sex offender registry for Jefferson Parish. Lieutenant Munguia testified that in May 2009, defendant was sent to the office of Probation and Parole to begin his sex offender registration as a result of his conviction of indecent behavior with a juvenile. Lieutenant Munguia identified the Sex Offender Contract that he personally completed with defendant. The contract informed defendant of the necessary steps that must be taken to complete and maintain his registration as a sex offender. Defendant placed his initials, " D.F.," next to all of the enumerated items informing him of his requirements and defendant signed the form. Lieutenant Munguia confirmed that since defendant's initial registration date of May 13, 2009, defendant did nothing to complete or maintain his registration. Lieutenant Munguia further testified that defendant spoke " perfectly good English" [14-642 La.App. 5 Cir. 5] and that if defendant had not been able to communicate in English, he would have communicated with defendant in Spanish.
Last, Deputy Nikki Passalaqua of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office crime lab testified as an expert in fingerprint analysis and comparison. The fingerprints contained in defendant's certified conviction packet for his conviction of indecent behavior with a juvenile were not of good quality so she looked to his arrest card in that conviction. Ms. Passalaqua examined the
fingerprints on the arrest card and determined that they matched the fingerprints she took from defendant in court on the day prior.
Defendant did not call any witnesses at trial.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
In his first assignment of error, defendant argues that the State failed to establish the elements of the offense of failure to register as a sex offender. Therefore, defendant asserts that the trial court erred in denying defendant's motions for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and new trial. Conversely, the State argues that the evidence at trial was sufficient to support the conviction.
The appropriate standard of review for determining the sufficiency of the evidence was established in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). According to Jackson, the standard is whether after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. Under the Jackson standard, a review of a criminal conviction record for sufficiency of evidence does not require the court to ask whether it believes that the evidence at trial established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Flores, 10-651 (La.App. 5 Cir. 5/24/11), 66 So.3d 1118, 1122. Rather, the reviewing court [14-642 La.App. 5 Cir. 6] must decide, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, whether any rational trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Id.; Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319, 99 S.Ct. at 2781; See also State v. Ortiz, 96-1609 (La. 10/21/97), 701 So.2d 922, cert. denied, 524 U.S. 943, 118 S.Ct. 2352, 141 L.Ed.2d 722 (1998); State v. Holmes, 98-490 (La.App. 5 Cir. 3/10/99), 735 So.2d 687.
Evidence may be either direct or circumstantial. Circumstantial evidence consists of proof of collateral facts and circumstances from which the existence of the main fact can be inferred according to reason and common experience. State v. Williams, 05-59 (La.App. 5 Cir. 5/31/05), 904 So.2d 830, 833. When circumstantial evidence is used to prove the commission of an offense, La. R.S. 15:438 provides that " assuming every fact to be proved that the evidence tends to prove, in order to convict, it must exclude every reasonable hypothesis of innocence." State v. Wooten, 99-181 (La.App. 5 Cir. 6/1/99), 738 So.2d 672, 675, writ denied, 99-2057 (La. 1/14/00), 753 ...