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United States of America v. Kevin Leroy

August 30, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
KEVIN LEROY CROWDER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ikuta, Circuit Judge:

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Montana Donald W. Molloy, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 2:09-cr-00025-DWM-1

Submitted May 6, 2011*fn1 Portland, Oregon

Before: A. Wallace Tashima, Carlos T. Bea, and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge Ikuta

OPINION

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) imposes criminal penalties on any person who "knowingly fails to register or update a registration as required by [SORNA]." 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). This appeal requires us to decide whether the government must prove that a defendant knew that SORNA imposed a registration requirement in order to convict a defendant of a violation of this statute. We join our sister circuits in holding that the government need not prove this knowledge element and affirm the district court.

I

In June 2007, Kevin Leroy Crowder was convicted of child molestation in Washington state court and sentenced to two years confinement, followed by three to four years community custody (i.e., probation). On June 22, 2007, he received and signed a certified copy of his judgment and sentence form, which informed him that as a sex offender, he was "required to register with the sheriff of the county of the state of Washington" where he resides, and that if he moved "out of Washington State," he had to "send written notice within 10 days of moving to the county sheriff with whom [he] last registered in Washington State," and then "register a new address, fingerprints, and photograph with the new state within 10 days." Upon his release from prison, on May 28, 2008, Crowder completed a Washington state sexual offender registration form, registering at the King County Sheriff's Office. The registration form stated that if Crowder "move[d] out of Washington State," he had to "send signed written notice within ten days of moving to the new state or foreign country, to the county sheriff with whom [he] last registered." And if he "knowingly fail[ed] to comply with these registration requirements, [he would be] guilty of a . . . felony." One week later, he filed a change of address form.

In March or April 2009, Crowder left Washington for Montana without advising either state to that effect. After a short stay with a woman he met at a bus stop, Crowder set up a campsite in a national forest. He was arrested on September 29, 2009, at a convenience store in Bozeman. In October 2009, a federal grand jury indicted Crowder for failure to register as a sex offender, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). The indictment stated: "KEVIN LEROY CROWDER, a sex offender by reason of a conviction under Washington law for Child Molestation in the Second Degree, a Felony, and a person required to register under [SORNA], traveled in interstate commerce to Montana, and did knowingly fail to register and/or update a registration, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a)." He entered a not guilty plea and opted for a bench trial. The district court rejected Crowder's argument that he did not receive "actual notice" of the federal sex registration requirements, relying on the Eighth Circuit's decision in United States v. Baccam, 562 F.3d 1197 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 432 (2009), and found him guilty. Crowder timely appeals. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

II

A

Before SORNA was enacted, the Wetterling Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 14071-73, repealed by SORNA, Pub. L. 109-248 (2006), required states to establish a sex offender registration program that met federal requirements or lose 10 percent of federal funding for law enforcement programs. Id. § 14071(g). "[B]y 2000, all fifty states and the District of Columbia had both sex offender registration ...


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