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State of Ohio v. Thomas Pritchett

November 18, 2011


(Criminal appeal from Common Pleas Court) T.C. NO. 09CR1226

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donovan, J.

Cite as State v. Pritchett,


{¶1} This matter is before the Court on the Notice of Appeal of Thomas Pritchett, filed August 4, 2010. On April 29, 2009, Pritchett was indicted on one count of failure to notify of a change of address, a felony of the second degree, in violation of R.C. 2950.05(A) and (F)(1). On July 23, 2009, Pritchett pled no contest, and the trial court sentenced him to a mandatory three year sentence. Pritchett did not appeal. On June 17, 2010, Pritchett filed a motion to withdraw his plea. Pritchett asserted that "he was no longer under an obligation to report his address due to the holding" in State v. Bodyke, 126 Ohio St.3d 266, 2010-Ohio-2424, which was decided on June 3, 2010. The trial court held an evidentiary hearing and overruled the motion on July 12, 2010.

{¶2} In its Decision, the trial court noted that Pritchett is a sexually oriented offender, having been previously convicted of attempted rape in Franklin County. After serving a prison term, Pritchett was released in 1999. While Pritchett testified at the hearing that he was released from prison in early 1999, the trial court noted that "all the written documentation before the court, and the Defendant's own motion, indicate that the Defendant was released in August 1999." Accordingly, the court found as a matter of fact that Pritchett was released from prison in August ,1999, and that "his first registration as a Sexually Oriented Offender was August 18, 1999. According to the statutes in effect at the time of the Defendant's initial registration, commonly referred to as 'Megan's Law,' the defendant * * * was required to register his address with the county sheriff for a period of 10 years. That would have made his last annual registration in August 2008, and he would no longer be required to keep his registration current after August 2009 (10 years). ORC § 2950.05, in the version that was in effect in 1999, and in the version under which the Defendant was indicted in April 2009, required that the Defendant notify the sheriff if he changed his address from the one where he last registered.

{¶3} "With the adoption of the new statutory scheme for sexually oriented offenders which became effective in Ohio January 1, 2008, commonly known as 'the Adam Walsh Act,' Thomas Pritchett was re-classified as a Tier III sex offender requiring that he register every 90 days (instead of annually). In State of Ohio v. Bodyke, 2010 Ohio 2424, the Ohio Supreme Court found that the reclassification of offenders was unconstitutional and that the three-tier registration scheme of the Adam Walsh Act '* * * may not be applied to offenders previously adjudicated by judges under Megan's Law, and the classifications and community-notification and registration orders imposed previously by judges are reinstated.' Undoubtedly, the recent Bodyke decision prompted the Defendant's motion to withdraw his plea." The trial court noted in a footnote that there was no evidence that Pritchett had been classified by a judge, but that he "would have been classified as a sexually oriented offender, the lowest classification under 'Megan's Law,' by statute, without the necessity of a hearing.

However, the Bodyke holding, that a defendant could not be reclassified by the Attorney General, still applies and Thomas Pritchett remains a sexually oriented offender."

{¶4} According to the trial court, Pritchett, "believing that he was required to register every 90 days, registered on March 27, 2009 with an address of 50 Central Ave. Apt. 304 Dayton Ohio 45406. The Sheriff's office attempted to confirm the Defendant's address on April 7th and 9th and it was determined that the apartment was vacant since [March] 30, 2009. The former named tenant, J.D. Knight was evicted and the move out date was 3-30-2009. [Pritchett] stated that he was unable to get back in the apartment to get his property and clothing.

{¶5} "[Pritchett's] indictment charged that the Defendant, as of March 30, 2009 (the date his reported residence became vacant) failed to provide the sheriff with a change of address within the time required by statute."

{¶6} In the course of its analysis, the court noted that Pritchett was not charged with a failure to register every 90 days under the Adam Walsh Act but rather a failure to provide notice of a change of address. The court further noted that, regarding any defenses Pritchett may have had to his indicted charge, he "had those same defenses available to him at the time of his plea whether he was required to keep his address current under Megan's Law or the Adam Walsh Act.

{¶7} "* * *

{¶8} "In this case, if [Pritchett] had been charged with failure to follow the 90 day registration requirement of the Adam Walsh Act, the Court would be inclined to grant his request to withdraw his plea because the Ohio Supreme Court has determined that he should not be reclassified. However, the Defendant was charged with a failure to provide notice of his new address, which was a statutory requirement of his registration under Megan's Law, regardless of the inapplicable change in the registration requirements." The court found no manifest injustice and overruled Pritchett's motion to withdraw his plea.

{¶9} Pritchett asserts one assignment of error as follows:


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