The Alaska Sex Offender Registration Act (ASORA), Alaska Stat. § 12.63.020(a)(1)(B), requires a person “convicted of ... two or more sex offenses” to register for life.
In 1995, James D. Ward was convicted, in a single criminal proceeding, of sex offenses involving two children. Following his release from prison he was informed that he was subject to lifetime sex offender registration.
Likewise, in a single 2007 criminal proceeding, defendant Michael E. Boles was convicted of sexual offenses against two children. He also was required to register for life pursuant to ASORA.
Ward and Boles appealed their lifetime registration, arguing “that the pertinent statute, AS 12.63.020(a)(1)(B), is ambiguous, because it can be read to require convictions in more than one proceeding. They therefore reason that the rule of lenity requires that the ambiguity be resolved in their favor and thus that the statute be read to require them to register for 15 years, not life.”
Ward’s lifetime registration was affirmed by a superior court while Boles’ was reversed by a different court. Appeals were taken in both cases.
The Alaska Supreme Court consolidated the appeals and concluded that the rule of lenity did not apply because “The statute, in requiring persons ‘convicted of ... two or more sex offenses’ to register for life, is unambiguous and cannot reasonably be read to condition lifetime registration on two or more separate convictions for sex offenses, or on any sequential or chronological separation between convictions.”
Thus, both Ward and Boles were required to register for life under ASORA. See: Ward v. State, 288 P.3d 94 (Alaska 2012).
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