United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Laredo Division
GARCIA MARMOLEJO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
was indicted for failing to register under the Sex Offender
Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). (Dkt. No. 8 at 1).
Pending before the Court is his Motion to Dismiss the
Indictment (Dkt. No. 32), which argues that the indictment
should be dismissed because (1) SORNA impermissibly delegates
authority to the Attorney General and (2) this Court lacks
jurisdiction because the Southern District of Texas is an
improper venue. (Dkt. No. 32 at 1). The Government filed a
response (Dkt. No. 35) rejecting both grounds, and the Court
held a hearing on July 9, 2019. At that hearing, the Court
DENIED dismissal based on Defendant's
improper-delegation argument because of the Supreme
Court's recent ruling in Gundy v. United States.
See 139 S.Ct. 2116, 2129 (2019) (holding that SORNA does
not improperly delegate authority to the Attorney General).
The Court now holds that the improper-venue argument also
fails. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Indictment (Dkt.
No. 32) is therefore DENIED.
2003, a North Dakota state court convicted Defendant for
Gross Sexual Imposition and sentenced him to ten years
imprisonment. (Dkt. No. 35 at 2). Congress subsequently
passed SORNA, which-together with the Attorney General's
final regulation-required those convicted of sex crimes (both
pre- and post-SORNA) to register in their state of residence.
originally complied with the Act, signing the North Dakota
Offender Registration Notice/Acknowledgement and
Registration. (Id. at 2-3). He again complied when
he moved to Laredo in 2017 and signed the Texas Sex Offender
Registration Program Form. (Id.). With his next move
however he did not comply.
a year of his move to Texas, Defendant moved to Arizona.
(Id.). Defendant neither informed Texas authorities
of his move nor registered as a sex offender in Arizona.
(Id.). On March 12, 2019, Defendant was indicted and
charged with failure to register as a sex offender in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). (Dkt. No. 32).
"establishes a comprehensive national system for the
registration of [sex] offenders," 34 U.S.C. §
20901, by requiring sex offenders to "register, and keep
the registration current, in each jurisdiction where the
offender resides, where the offender is an employee, and
where the offender is a student." 34 U.S.C. §
20913(a). To keep the registration current, sex offenders
must "not later than 3 business days after each change
of name, residence, employment, or student status, appear in
person in at least 1 jurisdiction involved pursuant to
subsection (a) and inform that jurisdiction of all changes in
the information required for that offender in the sex
offender registry." Id. at 20913(c). It is then
incumbent upon the notified jurisdiction to "immediately
provide that information to all other jurisdictions in which
the offender is required to register." Id.
sex offender violates SORNA only if the following elements
are satisfied in sequence: "an offender must (1) be
required by SORNA to register; then (2) travel in interstate
or foreign commerce; and then (3) knowingly fail to register
or update a registration as required by SORNA."
United States v. Byrd, 419 Fed.Appx. 485, 488 (5th
Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citing United States v.
Carr, 560 U.S. 438 (2010)); see also 18 U.S.C.
§ 2250(a). The government need not prove that the sex
offender traveled interstate specifically intending to avoid
a registration requirement. Id. (citing
Carr, 560 U.S. at 447). Such a violation is
punishable by a fine or a prison term of up to 10 years. 18
U.S.C. § 2250(a).
Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a
defendant the right to a trial by "an impartial jury of
the State and district wherein the crime shall have; been
committed." U.S. CONST, amend. VI; see also
FED. R. CRIM. P. 18 ("[T]he government must prosecute an
offense in a district where the offense was
committed."). That does not mean that a particular crime
may always be prosecuted in one and only one district. Many
crimes occur in more than one district, and therefore
"any offense . . . begun in one district and completed
in another, or committed in more than one district, may be
inquired of and prosecuted in any district in which such
offense was begun, continued, or completed." 18 U.S.C.
§ 3237(a); see United States u.
Bullock, 451 F.2d 884, 889 (5th Cir. 1971) ("18
U.S.C.A. § 3237 expressly fixes venue for the
prosecution of those crimes which are begun in one district
and completed in another. Under the terms of that statute,
such a crime may be prosecuted in any district where it was
'begun, continued, or completed.'"). Thus
"whether venue is proper in a particular district turns
on the elements of the i underlying crime
and where the acts satisfying those elements occurred."
United States v. Holcombe, 883 F.3d 12, 15 (2d Cir.
2018); see also United States v. Rodriguez-Moreno,
526 U.S. 275, 279 (1999) ("[T]he locus delicti
[of the charged offense] must be determined from the nature
of the crime alleged and the location of the act or acts
constituting it. In performing this inquiry, a court must
initially identify the conduct constituting the offense (the
nature of the crime) and then discern the location of the
commission of the criminal acts." (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted)).
also lies in multiple districts if the particular crime being
prosecuted is a continuing offense. Section 3237(a) states,
"Any offense involving ... transportation in interstate
. . . commerce ... is a continuing offense and . . . may be
inquired of and prosecuted in any district from, through, or
into which such commerce ... or person moves." 18 U.S.C.
Jurisdiction is proper in the Southern District of Texas
because interstate travel is an essential element of a ...