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Order requiring juvenile to register as sex offender affirmed

State v. E.L.C., 2021AP1624, 4/5/22, District 1, (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

In 2016, 13-year-old E.L.C. pled to 4th-degree sexual assault of his 7-year-old sister. The juvenile court deferred the issue of sex offender reporting until E.L.C. had a chance to participate in counseling. Five years later, it ordered him to register as a sex offender based on his conduct during supervision and his failure to fully engage with treatment. The court of appeals affirmed.

A juvenile who is adjudicated delinquent may be required to comply with the sex offender registration requirements in §301.45. See §938.34(15m). The court must determine that (1) the juvenile’s conduct was sexually motivated, and (2) it would be in the interest of public protection to have the juvenile report. Wis. Stats. §938.34(15m)(am)1.

E.L.C. conceded that his conduct met the “sexually motivated” standard. Thus, this appeal turned on the need for public protection. Section 938.34(15m)(c) lists a number of factors that a court may consider when deciding this point.  The court of appeals held that the circuit court’s decision was a reasonable exercise of discretion because applied the statutory factors to the facts of this case.

¶8 . . . Specifically, the court discussed the ages of E.L.C. and D.M.D. at the time of the assaults and their familial relationship, the first and second factors. See id. The court noted that the third and fourth factors, which relate to any physical or mental harm to D.M.D., were not applicable, although it did observe the serious nature of the assaults. See id.

¶9 In discussing the fifth factor—the probability that E.L.C. will commit other violations in the future, see id.—the trial court recognized that E.L.C. remained at a moderate risk to reoffend, referencing the risk assessment report from the therapist who evaluated E.L.C. Specifically, this report stated E.L.C.’s assessment level was based on factors which were under his control, particularly his conduct while on supervision, which included his lack of cooperation with the treatment programs offered to him; leaving his foster home with his whereabouts unaccounted for over several days; and his arrest in Illinois for possession of a firearm. E.L.C., on the other hand, argues that there have not been any further allegations against him, and thus the trial court’s decision is based on “pure speculation” that he may reoffend. However, the full scope of E.L.C.’s conduct while he was on supervision was considered in the report assessing his risk to reoffend, and thus it was reasonable for the trial court to consider this information in its review of the fifth factor. See id.

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