in the Court of Appeals 27 February 2019.
by Defendant from judgment entered 28 March 2018 by Judge
Lori I. Hamilton in Rowan County No. 14CRS055709 Superior
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney
General Gail E. Carelli, for the State-Appellee.
L. Smith for Defendant-Appellant.
case requires us to determine the definition of
"business day" for purposes of Chapter 27A of our
General Statutes. Defendant Christopher David Patterson
appeals from judgment entered upon a jury verdict of guilty
of failing to register as a sex offender by failing to timely
return an address verification form. Defendant argues there
was insufficient evidence of his willful failure to return
the address verification form within three business days
after receipt because Columbus Day could not be counted as a
business day. We hold that the term "business day,"
as used in Chapter 27A, means any calendar day except
Saturday, Sunday, or legal holidays declared in N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 103-4. Because Columbus day is a legal holiday
pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 103-4, there was
insufficient evidence that Defendant willfully failed to
return the address verification form within three business
days after receipt. The trial court erred by denying
Defendant's motion to dismiss and we thus vacate
about 8 March 2012, Defendant was convicted of a sex offense
in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.7(b), which
requires registration under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-208.7.
On or about 12 March 2012, Defendant registered as a sex
offender with the Rowan County Sheriff's Department.
year on the anniversary of a person's initial
registration date, and again six months after that date, the
Department of Public Safety mails an address verification
form to the last reported address of the person. Once the
person receives the form, he has three business days to take
the form to the sheriff's office to be signed.
County Sheriff's Deputy John Lombard, a twenty-three-year
employee of the department and an acquaintance of
Defendant's since kindergarten, was in charge of the sex
offender registry in Rowan County in 2012. Lombard testified
that when the address verification form was returned to the
sheriff's department as undeliverable,  "I would
normally call [Defendant], and he would come in and sign the
[form]." In May 2014, Lombard moved to another position
within the sheriffs department and Deputy Karen Brindle was
put in charge of the sex offender registry.
October 2014, an address verification form was mailed to
Defendant, but was returned to the Rowan County Sheriffs
Department as undeliverable. On Thursday, 9 October 2014,
Brindle instructed Lieutenant Larry St. Clair to deliver the
address verification form to Defendant at his place of
employment. On that day, St. Clair found Defendant at his
place of employment, and told Defendant that "he needed
to contact Ms. Brindle to set up an appointment to come up
and verify the information she was needing." St. Claire
had Defendant sign a card acknowledging that he needed to set
up an appointment and left the address verification form with
Defendant. The telephone call log entered into evidence by
the State showed that Defendant called Brindle on Thursday, 9
October 2014; Monday, 13 October 2014; Tuesday, 14 October
2014, at which time he left Brindle a voicemail; and twice on
Wednesday, 15 October 2014. Brindle testified that she did
not return any of Defendant's calls or respond to his
the unsuccessful attempts to set up an appointment with
Brindle as instructed, Defendant appeared in person at the
sheriffs department on 15 October 2014 and asked to meet with
Brindle. Defendant testified that he understood the form had
to be returned within three business days, and thought
Columbus Day was not a business day. He testified, "I
thought by showing up on Wednesday I -- I was complying with
my requirement." He further explained that he thought
"Friday would have been the first [business day].
Obviously, the weekend didn't count. I knew that Monday
was a federal holiday, so it was my assumption that -- that
that Monday didn't count as a business day. That was my
assumption, so I knew in my mind, I had until Wednesday to
get with the sheriffs department." Defendant testified,
"I took Wednesday off on purpose in case I had to meet
with her at that point."
his arrival at the sheriffs office, Defendant was told to
wait in the lobby. Unbeknownst to Defendant, at some point on
15 October 2014, the Rowan County District Court found
probable cause that Defendant "unlawfully, willfully,
and feloniously" failed to return an address
verification form as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. §
14-208.9A and issued a warrant for Defendant's arrest.
After waiting in the lobby, an officer approached Defendant,
handcuffed him, and arrested him for failing to register as a
sex offender by failing to return the address verification
October 2014, Defendant was brought to court for his first
appearance. After paying his bond, Defendant saw Brindle in
the lobby of the sheriffs department. Defendant approached
and handed her the signed address verification form. Brindle
testified that Defendant twice apologized to her "for
making a mistake."
December 2014, a Rowan County grand jury indicted Defendant
for failure to register as a sex offender by failing to
return an address verification form as required under N.C.
Gen. Stat. § 14-208.9A. Defendant was tried by a jury on
27 and 28 March 2018 in superior court. At the close of the
State's evidence and again at the close of all the
evidence, Defendant moved to dismiss for insufficient
evidence; the court denied the motions. The jury found
Defendant guilty of failing to register as a sex offender.
The court sentenced Defendant to a term of 19-32 months'
imprisonment, suspended the sentence, and placed Defendant on
supervised probation for 36 months. Additionally, the court
required Defendant to complete 24 hours of community service
during the first 180 days of probation. The court also
imposed a fine of $250, and assessed costs and fees in the
amount of $3, 215.50. Defendant gave proper notice of appeal
in open court.
appeal, Defendant argues there was insufficient evidence of
his failure to register as a sex offender under N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 14-208.9A because there was insufficient
evidence that he (1) failed to return the address
verification form within three business days after receipt or
(2) acted willfully if he had, in fact, failed to return the
form within three business days after receipt.
Standard of Review
Court reviews a trial court's denial of a motion to
dismiss de novo[.]" State v. Moore,
240 N.C.App. 465, 470, 770 S.E.2d 131, 136 (2015) (citation
omitted). Moreover, "[i]ssues of statutory construction
are questions of law which we review de novo on
appeal[.]" State v. Hayes, 248 N.C.App. 414,
415, 788 S.E.2d 651, 652 (2016). Upon de novo
review, this Court "considers the matter anew and freely
substitutes its own judgment for that of the lower
tribunal." State v. Williams, 362 N.C. 628,
632-33, 669 S.E.2d 290, 294 (2008) (quotation marks and
defendant's motion to dismiss, the trial court must
determine "whether there is substantial evidence of each
essential element of the offense charged and of the defendant
being the perpetrator of the offense. Substantial evidence is
relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." State v.
Worley, 198 N.C. App 329, 333, 679 S.E.2d 857, 861
(2009) (quotation marks and citations omitted). "[T]he
trial court must consider the record evidence in the light
most favorable to the State . . . ." Id.
(citation omitted). "The defendant's evidence,
unless favorable to the State, is not to be taken into
consideration." State v. Jones, 280 N.C. 60,
66, 184 S.E.2d 862, 866 (1971). However, if the
defendant's evidence is consistent with the State's
evidence, then the defendant's evidence "may be used
to explain or clarify that offered by the State."
Id. (citation omitted).
person required to register as a sex offender pursuant to
Article 27A, and who "willfully" fails to return an
address verification form required under N.C. Gen. Stat.
§ 14-208.9A, is guilty of a Class F Felony. N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 14-208.11 (a)(3) (2018). N.C. Gen. Stat. §
(1) Every year on the anniversary of a person's initial
registration date, and again six months after that date, the
Department of Public Safety shall mail a nonforwardable
verification form to the last reported address of the person.
(2) The person shall return the verification form in person
to the sheriff within three business days after the receipt
of the form.
(3) The verification form shall be signed by the person . ...