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Cloud v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

June 20, 2019

BRAYLON DAMON CLOUD, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 21st District Court Washington County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 17841

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Bourliot and Poissant.

          OPINION

          Kem Thompson Frost Chief Justice.

         Appellant Braylon Damon Cloud appeals his conviction for failure to comply with a sex-offender registration requirement. In a single issue he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. We affirm.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Appellant, who twice had been convicted of sexual assault of a child, was required by statute to register as a sex offender and to meet ongoing sex-offender registration requirements. Following his release from prison for the second conviction, appellant moved in with his sister in Brenham, Texas. In complying with the sex-offender registration requirement that he verify his registration every 90 days, on April 8, 2016, appellant verified to the Brenham Police Department that his sister's home address was the address at which he resided. Three months later, on July 11, 2016, appellant again verified to the Brenham Police Department that his sister's home address was the address at which he resided.

         Law enforcement officials received information from appellant's sister that appellant had moved to Austin in June 2016. Appellant was charged by indictment alleging that appellant "as a person required to register with local law enforcement where [appellant] resided or intended to reside for more than seven days. . . because of a reportable conviction for sexual assault of a child, intentionally or knowingly fail[ed] to provide the actual address at which the [appellant] resided."

         Appellant pleaded "not guilty." In the bench trial that followed the trial court found appellant guilty as charged. After finding the enhancement paragraphs to be true, the trial court assessed punishment at the minimum term of confinement based on those findings.

         II. Issue and Analysis

         In his sole issue appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. In evaluating this challenge, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the finding. Wesbrook v. State, 29 S.W.3d 103, 111 (Tex. Crim. App. 2000). The issue on appeal is not whether we, as a court, believe the State's evidence or believe that appellant's evidence outweighs the State's evidence. Wicker v. State, 667 S.W.2d 137, 143 (Tex. Crim. App. 1984). We may not overturn the finding of guilt unless we conclude it is irrational or unsupported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Matson v. State, 819 S.W.2d 839, 846 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991). The trier of fact "is the sole judge of the credibility of the witnesses and of the strength of the evidence." Fuentes v. State, 991 S.W.2d 267, 271 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999). The trier of fact may choose to believe or disbelieve any portion of the witnesses' testimony. Sharp v. State, 707 S.W.2d 611, 614 (Tex. Crim. App. 1986). When faced with conflicting evidence, we presume the trier of fact resolved conflicts in favor of the prevailing party. Turro v. State, 867 S.W.2d 43, 47 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993). If any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, we must affirm. McDuff v. State, 939 S.W.2d 607, 614 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997).

         One commits a criminal offense if one is "required to register and fails to comply with any requirement of" chapter 62 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, entitled "Sex Offender Registration Program." See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 62.102(a); Young v. State, 341 S.W.3d 417, 425 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011). A person with a "reportable conviction" must register with the relevant local law-enforcement authority where the person resides or intends to reside more than seven days. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 62.051(a). A "reportable conviction" includes a conviction for sexual assault. Id. art. 62.001(5)(A) (Vernon 2018). A person, like appellant, convicted of two or more "sexually violent offenses" is required to "report to the local law enforcement authority designated as the person's primary registration authority . . . not less than once in each 90-day period following the date the person first registered . . . to verify the information in the registration form maintained by the authority for that person." Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 62.058(a) (West, Westlaw through 2017 R.S.). A person who is required to verify registration must ensure that the person's registration form is complete and accurate with respect to each item of information required by the form in accordance with subsection (c), including the address at which the person resides. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 62.051(c), (g) (West, Westlaw through 2017 R.S.). When a person reports to the local law enforcement authority to verify registration, the local law enforcement authority must obtain proof of the person's identity and residence and then give the person's registration form to the person for verification. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 62.058(c). If the information in the registration form is complete and accurate, the person must "verify registration by signing the form." Id. If the information is not complete or not accurate, the person must make any necessary additions or corrections before signing the form. Id.

         The Court of Criminal Appeals has concluded that because Chapter 62's registration requirements are triggered only by a person's duty to register, an offense under article 62.102(a) requires a culpable mental state only regarding the circumstances of the conduct. See Robinson v. State, 466 S.W.3d 166, 172 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015). Although Penal Code section 6.02(c) generally requires that the culpable mental states of intent, knowledge, or recklessness apply when reading mental culpability into the statute under section 6.02(b), the statutory definition of "intent" contains no provision for circumstances surrounding conduct, unlike the definitions of "knowledge" and "recklessness." See Tex. Pen. Code Ann. §§ 6.02, 6.03 (West, Westlaw through 2017 R.S.); Robinson, 466 S.W.3d at 172. Therefore, the high court has determined that intent does not apply to offenses under article 62.102(a). Robinson, 466 S.W.3d at 172. Additionally, the Court of Criminal Appeals has determined that the culpable mental states of "knowledge" and "recklessness" apply to the duty-to-register element but not to the failure-to-register element of an offense under article 62.102(a). Id. at 172, 173. Thus, for an offense under article 62.102(a), the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant (1) knew or was reckless about whether the defendant had a duty to register as a sex offender, and (2) failed to comply with the Chapter 62 requirement the defendant allegedly violated. Id.; Febus v. State, 542 S.W.3d 568, 573 (Tex. Crim. App. 2018).

         At trial, Texas Department of Public Safety's special agent Rebecca Salazar testified that appellant's prior offenses required that he register as a sex offender. The trial court admitted into evidence authenticated copies of two judgments reflecting appellant's two prior sexual-assault-of-a-child convictions, each of which states that appellant was subject to Chapter 62's sex-offender registration requirements. Agent Salazar testified that following appellant's release from incarceration, on April 8, 2016, appellant registered 1008 West 1st Street in Brenham, Washington County, Texas as his address ("the Registered Address."). Both Agent Salazar's testimony and documentary evidence admitted at trial show that on July 11, 2016, appellant verified his registration and verified that his address was the Registered Address.

         The uncontested evidence shows that appellant was a person required to register, and specifically that he was required either to verify that the Registered Address remained correct or provide his correct address before signing the form to ...


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