Rogers v. State, No. C-02-CV-17–000296 (Md. 2020)
Nature of Case: Appellant was convicted of a trafficking offense in Maryland state court. Subsequent to his conviction, Maryland state authorities required him to register as a Tier II sex offender on the grounds that the victim of the offense was a minor, though this was not established in court. Appellant brought a declaratory relief action in Maryland state court, requesting that the court enter an order that he not be required to register on the grounds that the age of the victim was never established in court. The trial court granted the requested relief, and the state appealed. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed and remanded with instructions that the trial court be required to find the age of the victim by a preponderance of the evidence. Both Appellant and the state sought review from the Maryland Court of Appeals.
Holding: The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Court of Special Appeals, finding that the state was without authority to require Appellant to register on the grounds that the age of the victim was not a fact that was found in court beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court observed at length the ways in which registration had become more punitive over the years, and in light of United States Supreme Court precedent, the state could not engage in extra-judicial fact-finding in order to impose punishment. Facts triggering a sex offense registration must be found by a jury or a judge during the adjudicatory phase of a criminal proceeding.