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State v. Johnson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District

September 23, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RICKEY ALAN JOHNSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT. STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RICKEY ALAN JOHNSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeals from Wyandot County Common Pleas Court Trial Court Nos. 10-CR-48 and 11-CR-0006

Emily P. Beckley for Appellant

Jonathan K. Miller for Appellee

OPINION

SHAW, J.

(¶1} Defendant-appellant, Rickey Alan Johnson ("Johnson") appeals the March 20, 2013 judgments of the Wyandot County Court of Common Pleas designating him as a "Sexual Predator" under Megan's Law.[1]

(¶2} On April 22, 2011, Johnson pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual battery. The charges stemmed from an ongoing sexual relationship spanning several years that Johnson maintained with his minor step-daughter.

(¶3} On June 16, 2011, the trial court sentenced Johnson to serve an aggregate prison term of fifteen years and designated him as a "Tier III" sexual offender under the Adam Walsh Act ("AWA"), which was enacted on January 1, 2008. However, the record indicates that the sexual conduct underlying the offenses occurred between 1996 and 1998, when Megan's Law was in effect.

(¶4} Johnson subsequently appealed his designation as a "Tier III" sexual offender to this Court and argued that the trial court was required to classify him under the statutory scheme in effect at the time he committed his offenses. See State v. Williams, 129 Ohio St.3d 344, 2011–Ohio-3374. Notably, the prosecution conceded this to be error.

(¶5} This Court reversed the trial court's "Tier III" classification and remanded the matter to the trial court with instructions to hold a sex offender designation hearing in accordance with Megan's Law. See State v. Johnson, 3d Dist. Wyandot Nos. 16-11-05, 16-11-06, 2013-Ohio-136, ¶ 9.

(¶6} On March 12, 2013, the trial court held a sexual offender designation hearing and based on the applicable statutory law designated Johnson as a "Sexual Predator."

(¶7} Johnson now appeals, asserting the following assignment of error.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DESIGNATING APPELLANT A SEXUAL PREDATOR BECAUSE THE FINDING WAS NOT SUPPORTED BY CLEARING [SIC] AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE.

(¶8} In his sole assignment of error, Johnson argues that the trial court erred when it designated him as a sexual predator. Specifically, Johnson contends that the prosecution failed to present adequate evidence to support the trial court's finding that he is likely to engage in future sexually-oriented offenses. In response, the prosecution contends that there was clear and convincing evidence to show the likelihood of recidivism.

(¶9} On appeal, this Court reviews a trial court's sexual predator designation "under the civil manifest-weight-of-the-evidence standard and [the decision] may not be disturbed when the judge's findings are supported by some competent, credible evidence." State v. Wilson, 113 Ohio St.3d 382, 2007-Ohio-2202, at the syllabus.

(¶10} This civil standard of review affords the trial court more deference than the criminal standard. Id. at ΒΆ 26. Thus, the standard is satisfied if there is something of substance in the evidence from which one could draw a logical conclusion concerning the likelihood of recidivism, enough to reach a firm belief or conviction that the defendant is likely to commit a future ...


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