Justia Opinion Summary Petitioner-Appellee, Jerry Butler pled guilty to two counts of "Sexual Abuse of a Minor Child" and received two five-year deferred sentences which ran consecutively. The district court in Sequoyah County issued an order expunging Butler's plea from the record, deleting all references to his name from the docket sheet, deleting the public index of the filing of the charge, and providing no information concerning the file shall unless ordered by the court.
He argued requiring him to register violated his rights to equal protection of the laws and to due process of law. The Department filed a Motion to Dismiss alleging Butler's deferred sentences and expungement were unlawful. The district court granted a permanent injunction against the Department, finding Butler's case presented an unusual and narrow circumstance and he was indeed denied equal protection of the law. The Supreme Court disagreed with the district court and reversed and remanded its decision for further proceedings.
Butler alleged he had been denied equal protection of the law. The district court granted a permanent injunction against the Department finding Butler's case presented an unusual and narrow circumstance and he was denied equal protection of the law. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. He argued requiring him to register violates his rights to equal protection of the laws and to due process of law "under the Constitutions of the United States, Amendments V and XIV, and of the State of Oklahoma, Art.
He alleged 57 O. The provisions of the Sex Offenders Registration Act shall not apply to any such person who has received a criminal history records expungement for a conviction in another state for a crime or attempted crime which, if committed or attempted in this state, would be a crime or an attempt to commit a crime provided for in any said laws listed in subsection A of this section.
He asserted there is no legitimate state purpose for denying Oklahoma defendants in deferred sentence cases the same privilege as that accorded to citizens of Oklahoma whose criminal history records were expunged in any of the other states.
The Department cites to "22 O. March 20, ," the law in effect when Butler pled, which provided: The deferred judgment procedure described in this section shall not apply to defendants who plead guilty or nolo contendere to a sex offense. The term "sex offense" shall not include a violation of paragraph 1 of subsection A of Section of title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes. The court found there exists no rational basis behind 57 O. The court emphasized that the amendment to 22 O. Butler now to register denies him equal protection of the law under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and under Art.
The district court did not address Butler's due process argument nor did it specifically address his claim 57 O. On October 14, , the Department appealed. Security Finance Corp of Oklahoma, Inc. On appeal, this Court assumes "plenary independent and non-deferential authority to reexamine a trial court's legal rulings.
The Department also asserts the trial court abused its discretion. The Department cites Steltzen v. Effective, November 1, , over eight months prior to his plea, 57 O. On or after November 1, , any person who has been convicted of a crime or an attempt to commit a crime, received a suspended sentence or any probationary term for a crime provided for in Section of Title 10 of the Oklahoma Statutes, if the offense involved sexual abuse or sexual exploitation as these terms are defined in Section of Title 10 of the Oklahoma Statutes, Section , , An aggravated sex offender shall be required to register for the lifetime of the aggravated sex offender.
HB , Okla. This amendment required a person like Butler who received "any probationary term" for a crime provided for in 10 O.
Even if deferred sentencing of a sex offender and the subsequent expungement of the offender's criminal records were lawful, which it is not and was not, this law is clear, an aggravated sex offender must register under SORA for his or her lifetime. He claimed it was a violation of due process to require him to register when his case was dismissed pursuant to a plea bargain. However, the plea agreement was not made part of the record in this case and we have no way of knowing its contents.
Regardless, the plea agreement could not bargain away what the law required at the time of Butler's plea. As mentioned, over eight months prior to his plea, 57 O. This is not something that could be bargained away by a later plea agreement.
The district court placed great weight on the misconception that this version was the one that prohibited deferred sentences from being granted to sex offenders. It then found this prohibition had only been in existence for "three months and eight days" prior to Butler's plea. It determined because of the close proximity of the amendment to Butler's plea this case presented an "unusual and narrow circumstance. The Department was only being diligent in citing the relevant version of the law.
That version, however, did not create the prohibition on granting deferred sentences to sex offenders as the district court mistakenly found and Butler continues to assert on appeal. Butler made an argument in his Petition for Injunction that 57 O. However, that issue was not discussed in any meaningful way in the order which is before us on appeal. Perfection in making the necessary classifications is neither possible nor necessary. Classifications are not measured by whether they discriminate, but by whether they discriminate impermissibly or invidiously.
We have found, "[w]here a legitimate state purpose is achieved via a statutory means that does not violate the relatively relaxed standard of minimal rationality, the classification scheme passes constitutional muster.
Subsection E merely provides the provisions of SORA are not applicable to a person who has received a criminal history records expungement for a conviction in another state of an otherwise SORA applicable crime. The Legislature does not expressly state its reason for this provision. However, we have previously found the Equal Protection Clause, for a rational-basis review, does not demand a legislature articulate its purpose or rationale; where there is none, this Court will hypothesize the reason.
We find the Department correctly interpreted the reason for 57 O. The Department asserts "the State has a rational basis to not embark upon the unduly burdensome and potentially impossible task of trying to ascertain information upon which to classify those with out of state expungements.
Since its prohibition in , it is presumed law enforcement officials will have access to the records of all sex offenders who enter a plea in Oklahoma. The same cannot be said for the records of sex offenders who committed their offense in another state; especially when other states may continue to allow expungement of sex offender records.
All that is required to satisfy the minimal rationality test is that the Legislature could conceivably have believed that 57 O. The district court reached an erroneous conclusion that Butler's case presented an "unusual and narrow circumstance" which justified it ignoring valid and existing law.
We also find the provisions of 57 O. At the time of Butler's plea, the law required a person who received any probationary term for a crime provided for in 10 O.
Requiring Butler to register under SORA based upon the law in effect at the time of his plea is consistent with our recent holding in Cerniglia v. We reverse the district court's order granting a permanent injunction against the Department and require the district court to order Butler's registration under SORA be reinstated for his lifetime because of his "aggravated" sex offender status.
The record does not otherwise reflect if he pled guilty or nolo contendere; the Order Expunging Court Records, dated April 8, , only indicates he entered into a plea agreement. Regardless, for purposes of 22 O. March 20, merged the provisions of 22 O.
Neither of these merged versions amended subsection G of Section c. The deferred judgement [sic] procedure described in this section shall not apply to defendants who plead guilty or nolo contendere to a sex offense.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation throughout the State, and where a general law can be made applicable, no special law shall be enacted. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
All persons have the inherent right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. When called upon to analyze a case on equal protection grounds, a court will apply one of three standards of review; a rational basis, b heightened scrutiny, or c strict scrutiny.
If the classification does not implicate a suspect class or abridge a fundamental right, the rational-basis test is used. City of Cleburne, Tex. Cleburne Living Center, U. Bartlesville Independent School District No.