Collateral consequences firearms and sex

Here is an unpublished opinion in United States v. Jones, No. 09-15005 (11th Cir. 17 June 2010).  I’ve commented before about how nuanced sex offender registration issues can get.

Christopher Martin Jones appeals from his sentence imposed following his conviction for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. On appeal, Jones argues that the district court erroneously found that his 1992 conviction by a special court-martial for sodomy, in violation of United States Military Justice ("UCMJ") Article 125, 10 U.S.C. § 925, constitutes a sex offense that requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, 42 U.S.C. § 16901 et. seq. ("SORNA"). Accordingly, he argues, the court abused its discretion in ordering that he register as a sex offender under SORNA as a special condition of his supervised release (special condition 5). In addition, Jones also argues that the court abused its discretion in imposing special conditions 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 of his supervised release, which are targeted toward preventing future sexual misconduct. Relying on 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d), Jones contends that, in light of the fact that his criminal history includes only one conviction for a sex offense, and this offense occurred in 1992, these special conditions are not reasonably related to the sentencing goals set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

For the reasons set forth below, we vacate and remand.

A federal grand jury indicted Jones for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Jones ultimately pled guilty to the offense.

In preparing the presentence investigation report ("PSI"), the probation officer reported that, in 1992, Jones was convicted by a special court-martial for the military offenses of sodomy and indecent acts. An investigation had revealed that Jones engaged in sexual activity with a 16-year-old girl. At the time that he and the 16-year-old engaged in sexual activity, they were in the presence of a 15-year-old girl. Jones had provided the minor girls with alcohol. Regarding Jones’s conviction for indecent acts, the probation officer reported that military records specified that this conviction was based on the fact that Jones had committed sodomy with a 16-year-old female while in the presence of a 15-year-old female.

Here, the district court failed to expressly address the parties’ arguments regarding whether Jones’s sodomy conviction is a military offense that requires SORNA registration. Instead, the court summarily stated that it was "satisfied that [Jones] is required to register as a sex offender," and did not support this conclusion with factual findings or a legal analysis. As a result, it is impossible to discern the legal and factual basis for the court’s decision to require that Jones register as a sex offender. Moreover, as explained below, the record does not conclusively demonstrate whether the court’s SORNA ruling was correct.