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People v. Gomez

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

March 23, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
NOE GOMEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 13 CR 13852 Honorable Rosemary Grant Higgins, Judge Presiding.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE ELLIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Howse and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          ELLIS, PRESIDING JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant Noe Gomez was found guilty of one count of failing to register as a sex offender under section 3(a)(1) of the Sex Offender Registration Act (Act) (730 ILCS 150/3(a)(1) (West 2012)). Under section 3(a)(1), a sex offender has a duty to register with the police in any municipality where he "resides or is temporarily domiciled for a period of time of 3 or more days." Id.

         ¶ 2 In this appeal, defendant argues that the State failed to prove that he resided or was temporarily domiciled in Chicago, as the State alleged in the indictment. We agree. The State was required to prove two things-(1) that defendant permanently resided or was temporarily domiciled in Chicago, and (2) that defendant failed to register in Chicago. The State failed to prove the first element. The State presented no evidence regarding defendant's current address and no evidence proving that defendant had resided anywhere in Chicago for at least three days in the relevant calendar year. At most, the State presented evidence that defendant previously tried to register at an address in Chicago, that he was later in police custody in Chicago, and that a Chicago police officer could not find any record of defendant being registered in any jurisdiction, Chicago or otherwise. Whatever might be said about defendant's failure to register, and regardless of whether he may have violated other provisions of state law, the State presented no evidence that he violated section 3(a)(1). We reverse defendant's conviction.

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 The State charged defendant with one count of failing to register as a sex offender under section 3(a)(1) of the Act, alleging that defendant "knowingly failed to register, in person, as a sex offender with the Chicago police department within 3 days of establishing a residence or temporary domicile in the city of Chicago."

         ¶ 5 At defendant's bench trial, Detective Lunsford of the Chicago police testified that, on June 26, 2013, he met with defendant at the 18th district police station, where defendant was in custody on "an unrelated matter." Lunsford learned defendant's sex offender registration number and, using the number, searched for a "hard card, " a card issued to a sex offender once he or she had completed his registration with the Chicago police. Lunsford said that he found "no hard card on file" for defendant. Lunsford testified that a sex offender could obtain a hard card "at any municipality or jurisdiction where [he] reside[d]." Lunsford testified that he looked "to see if there were hard cards in any other jurisdiction that were on file" for defendant and did not find any.

         ¶ 6 Lunsford also testified that he received a copy of defendant's sex offender registration form from the prison where he had been housed. According to Lunsford, defendant was supposed to have registered on or before July 16, 2012, three days following his release from prison.

         ¶ 7 Lunsford testified that defendant told him "that he attempted to register at the Chicago Police Department but he was not allowed to because the address he was attempting to register at was not a valid address." Lunsford testified that defendant told him that he had attempted to register at "5435 South Spalding" but could not because "it was too close to a school."

         ¶ 8 On cross-examination, Lunsford testified that he checked jurisdictions within Illinois and that defendant "was not registered in any other state" according to "the Department of Justice online database."

         ¶ 9 The parties stipulated that Victor Olf, a correctional officer at Robinson Correctional Center, met with defendant on July 13, 2012, the day defendant was being released from prison, and gave defendant a copy of a sex offender registration notification form. Defendant read the form, and Olf told him that he would "need to establish his residence within the jurisdiction which he decided to reside [in] within three days of his release [from prison], that being July 16, 2012."

         ¶ 10 The State entered two certified copies of defendant's 1993 conviction for aggravated criminal sexual abuse and 2010 conviction for failing to report as a sex offender.

         ¶ 11 The court found defendant guilty, stating that the State had proved that defendant "knowingly failed to register in person as a sex offender with the city of Chicago within three days of establishing a residence or temporary domicile in the city of Chicago." The court sentenced ...


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