Anne Arundel Man Waived Right to Contest the Term of His Sex Offender Registration Requirement, Court Rules

Anne Arundel Man Waived Right to Contest the Term of His Sex Offender Registration Requirement, Court Rules

A man’s failure the first time that he challenged his guilty plea in a sex offense case to raise the issue of the length of time he was required to register as a Maryland sex offender waived the issue with regard to future petitions, Maryland’s top court recently ruled.

In 2000, Gerald Hyman was charged in Anne Arundel County Court with one count of third-degree sexual offense, one court of second-degree assault and one count of fourth degree sexual offense. The charges stemmed from Hyman, who was more than 30 years old, having allegedly engaged in consensual sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old female.

A combined plea and sentencing took place in 2001 in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. At that time, Hyman entered a plea of guilty to third-degree sexual offense in exchange for the state’s agreement to enter a nolle prosequi of the remaining charges and to recommend to the court that Hyman be sentenced within the guidelines, which was a fully suspended sentence and three years of supervised probation.

In response to the court’s questions, Hyman said he understood that he had a right to a jury trial at which the state would have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; that he was not currently under the effects of alcohol, narcotics or medications and that he was not suffering from a mental disability that impaired his understanding of what he was doing in going forward with the plea. The court then found that he had “affirmatively, knowingly and intelligently waived his right to a trial by jury.”

The court also confirmed that Hyman was aware that his lawyer had discussed the proposed plea agreement with the state, that he would plead guilty to third-degree sexual offense and the state would enter a nolle prosequi as to the remaining charges. The court also clarified that that condition forbidding “unsupervised visitation with any minor children” would not limit his access to his own children. Hyman said, “Yes,” when asked if he understood the terms of the plea agreement. The Court of Appeals noted that Hyman could have gotten 10 years if not for the plea agreement.

Hyman was convicted of the crime of third-degree sexual offense. He received a three-year sentence that was fully suspended with three years of supervised probation and was required to register as a sex offender.

At the time Hyman was sentenced, a person convicted of third-degree sexual offense was required to register as a sex offender for life but that was changed in 2010 so that Hyman’s registration period was reduced from lifetime to 25 years.

When Hyman completed his sex offender registration, the form included boxes labelled either “10 years” or “lifetime.” The “10 year” box was marked, indicating incorrectly, that he was required to register annually for ten years. Hyman completed another form in 2002 and the “10 year” box was marked. In 2003, Hyman completed another registration form and the box for a “10 year” registration was marked and crossed out and the box for “lifetime” was marked with his initials next to it.

Since his plea, the Court of Appeals said, Hyman has made several unsuccessful attempts to obtain relief from registration. His first attempt was in 2006, in a petition written with the help of a “jailhouse lawyer.”

In the most recent attempt, he claimed that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel before and at the combined plea and sentencing procedure and that his guilty plea was involuntary. Both claims, the court said, stem from his alleged ignorance of the length of time he was required to register as a sex offender.

At one point, Hyman said he expected his sex offender registration period to be 10 years from his 2001 conviction and that the 10 years, tolled during his four years in federal prison on an unrelated drug charge when he was not required to register, should have ended in 2015. Hyman acknowledged that at the time of his conviction, the law required lifetime registration for his offense but that the 2001 and 2002 registration forms he was required to sign indicated a 10-year registration and that he was told only in 2003 that he had to register for life.

Hyman said registration meant he was not allowed to go on a wedding anniversary cruise with his wife, that he was harassed because of the sex offender registration and that he had lost jobs because of the registration. In addition, in 2004, when convicted in federal court on a drug offense, Hyman learned that, as a convicted sex offender, he was not eligible for early release. However, later on, he obtained early release because of a change in the federal sentencing guidelines.

The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County found that his claims were without merit. The next higher court, the Court of Special Appeals, was not persuaded by Hymans’ arguments and found that he had knowingly and voluntarily pleaded guilty, that he had been advised multiple times that his guilty plea required sex offender registration and that lack of advice regarding the consequences of pleading guilty did not violate his due process rights. The Court of Appeals affirmed the intermediate appellate court but on a different ground, holding that Hyman had waived the grounds underlying both claims and, as a result, it did not have to address the merits of his claims. The court said Hyman knew or should have known by 2006 that his registration period was longer than three or six years. The Court of Appeals also noted that the type of relief Hyman sought – coram nobis – is often sought years after the fact and that it is an “extraordinary remedy.”

If you have been charged with a sex crime in Maryland or required to register for the Maryland Sex Offender Registry, you should talk to a Maryland criminal defense attorney. A Baltimore sex crimes lawyer can go over your options. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience handling these cases. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.885.1775 or via our website for a free consultation.