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State v. Surratt

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

June 2, 2015

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
DEXTER LEON SURRATT, Defendant

Heard in the Court of Appeals April 7, 2015

Editorial Note:

This Decision is not final until expiration of the twenty-one day rehearing period. [North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure 32(b)]

Catawba County, No. 13 CRS 01017, 13 CRS 51481.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General Laura Askins, for the State.

James W. Carter for defendant.

ELMORE, Judge. Judges GEER and DILLON concur.

OPINION

Page 328

Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 29 April 2014 by Judge Yvonne Mims Evans in Catawba County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 7 April 2015.

Page 329

ELMORE, Judge.

On 7 January 2013, Dexter Leon Surratt, Jr. (defendant) was indicted in 13 CRS 01017 for failing to change his address as a sex offender pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.11. On 20 May 2013, defendant was indicted in 13 CRS 51481 for falsification of information under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.11. Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of both charges on 29 April 2014. The trial court consolidated the offenses for sentencing and imposed an active sentence with a minimum term of eighteen months and a maximum term of thirty-one months imprisonment. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred in failing to grant his motions to dismiss on the basis that the State failed to prove that (1) he was required to register as a sex offender, and (2) that he falsified information for purposes of being charged with violating N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.11. After careful consideration, we hold that the trial court did not err in failing to grant defendant's motion to dismiss based on his contention that he was not required to register as a sex offender. However, we agree with defendant that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the charge of falsifying information. Accordingly, we vacate defendant's convictions, in part, and remand for a new sentencing hearing.

II. Background

On 14 June 1994, defendant was convicted of the sexual offense of taking indecent liberties with a child. Defendant was sentenced to a three-year active sentence under the Fair Sentencing Act. After his release, defendant was required to register his address in the sheriff's office in the county in which he lived in order to be included in the sex offender registry. According to the sex offender registration records, defendant first registered as a sex offender on 24 January 1999.

On 7 September 2012, defendant registered a change in his address from 238 32nd Street Southwest to 1470 14th Avenue Northeast in Hickory (the address)--his father's residence. The SBI sent a certified verification letter to the address and requested that the postal service return it to the Catawba County Sheriff's Office if it could not be delivered. The letter was returned " undeliverable." Law enforcement made several unsuccessful attempts to contact defendant at the address. Specifically, on 17 November 2012, Officer James Mathis of the Hickory Police Department went to the address and spoke with defendant's sister, Tiara Rippy. Ms. Rippy informed Officer Mathis that defendant and his father had had an argument a month prior and that defendant's father banished defendant from the residence. Ms. Rippy testified that she visited the residence two or three times per week and on weekends and defendant was never present in the residence after the argument with his father.

Lieutenant Lynn Baker testified that he encountered defendant at the Sheriff's Office in February 2013. At that time, defendant maintained that he was residing at 1470 14th Avenue Northeast and claimed that he was mistakenly charged with failing to register a change in his address. Lieutenant Baker stated that defendant ...


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