Appeal from Superior Court, Criminal Unit, Lamoille Division
Thomas Carlson, J.
Tartter, Deputy State's Attorney, Montpelier, for
C. Simon of Breton & Simon, PLC, Stowe, for
PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Robinson, Eaton and Carroll, JJ., and
Wesley, Supr. J. (Ret.), Specially Assigned
1. The issue in this case is whether an individual who is
convicted of a sex offense can be compelled to register as a
sex offender if the putative victim was an adult undercover
police officer posing as a minor child. Defendant appeals the
trial court's decision requiring him to register as a sex
offender. He argues the plain language of the sex offender
registration statute requires that the underlying crime be
committed against an actual minor victim. Considering the
structure and purpose of the statute, we conclude that 13
V.S.A. § 5401(10)(B) encompasses attempted crimes
against a putative victim who the defendant perceives to be a
minor. We accordingly affirm.
2. Defendant pled guilty to a charge of attempted luring of a
child pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 2828 based on his attempt
to meet with a person he believed to be a minor child for the
purpose of having sex. The charging affidavit reflects that,
after receiving complaints concerning defendant's
inappropriate online contact with minors, an investigator,
posing as a thirteen-year-old girl named "Alexa, "
reached out to defendant through Facebook. Defendant had an
extended course of communications with "Alexa, "
and ultimately asked her to meet with him to have sex. Police
arrested defendant when he showed up at the arranged location
at the agreed upon time and date.
3. The parties agreed to a minimum sentence of twenty-eight
months, ten days, with a five-year maximum, but disagreed as
to whether defendant was required to register as a sex
offender. Defendant argued that the sex offender registration
statute, by its plain terms, requires the presence of an
actual minor victim. See 13 V.S.A. §
5401(10)(B). The trial court concluded that the Legislature
intended to include in the sex offender registration statute
convictions where the "minor victim" was in fact an
undercover police officer posing as a minor. Accordingly, the
court issued an order requiring defendant to register in the
sex offender registry. Defendant appealed.
4. The sex offender registration statute defines "sex
offender" as a person convicted of any of various
identified charges. 13 V.S.A. § 5401(10)(B). This
definition includes, in relevant part:
(B) A person who is convicted of any of the following
offenses against a victim who is a minor . . . .
. . . .
(v) sexual exploitation of children as defined in chapter 64
of this title . . . .
. . . .
(x) an attempt to commit any offense listed in this