THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF RICHMOND Beverly W. Snukals,
Whitley, Deputy Public Defender, for appellant.
Murphy, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring,
Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Chief Judge Decker, Judge Beales and Retired Judge
Bumgardner [*] Argued at Richmond, Virginia
GRAFF DECKER CHIEF JUDGE.
Randall Young appeals his convictions for failing to
reregister as a sexually violent offender under the Virginia
Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act (the
Act), Code §§ 9.1-900 to -923, in violation of Code
§ 18.2-472.1(B). On appeal, he argues that the circuit
court erred by finding that the evidence was sufficient to
prove that he was required to register under the
We hold that the evidence, viewed under the applicable
standard of appellate review, was sufficient, and we affirm
appellant was indicted for multiple violations of the Act,
including two counts of failing to reregister as a sexually
violent offender, second or subsequent offense, in violation
of Code § 18.2-472.1(B). The failures were alleged to
have occurred in January and February of 2017.
appellant's trial, the Commonwealth elicited testimony
from Amanda Rader, custodian of records for the Virginia
State Police Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry
(the registry), established in conjunction with the Act.
See Code §§ 9.1-911, 19.2-390.1. Through
Rader, the Commonwealth offered a certified conviction order
(the 1986 order) showing that on June 3, 1986, Jack Young was
convicted of attempted forcible sodomy and aggravated sexual
battery (the 1986 convictions) in the circuit court of
Henrico County, Virginia. That order, admitted over the
appellant's objection, reflects sentences, pursuant to a
plea agreement, of twenty years of incarceration, with ten
years suspended, for aggravated sexual battery, and ten
years, with five years suspended, for attempted forcible
sodomy. The Commonwealth also offered a criminal history
report for the appellant from the Virginia Criminal
Information Network (the VCIN report) to prove, despite an
inconsistency in birth dates, that the appellant was the same
Jack Young who was the subject of the 1986 order. The VCIN
report, also admitted over the appellant's objection,
lists the various names and aliases used by the subject of
the report, as well as various dates of birth and social
security numbers. Further, the report contains a section
titled "Correctional History," which details the
appellant's periods of incarceration in the Virginia
Department of Corrections (the DOC).
accompanying testimony, Rader explained that based on the
appellant's 1986 convictions for attempted forcible
sodomy and aggravated sexual battery, he was classified as a
sexually violent offender for purposes of the registry and
had a duty to reregister under that classification every
ninety days. The trial court also admitted the
appellant's 2014 warrant of arrest and conviction,
entered upon his guilty plea, for failure to reregister as a
nonviolent offender (the 2014 conviction or the 2014 order).
Rader explained that as a result of that conviction, the
appellant was required to reregister as a sexually violent
offender more frequently, every thirty days. Through Rader,
the prosecutor also offered numerous reregistration forms
completed by the appellant in 2016 and 2017.
Trooper Michael King of the Virginia Department of State
Police testified about his involvement with the appellant in
the course of his duties working for the sex offender
investigative unit. King related that when he arrested the
appellant for violations of the Act in 2016 and 2017, the
appellant made various admissions related to his duty to
register and reregister.
close of the Commonwealth's case, the appellant moved to
strike the evidence, in part asserting the claims that he
makes in the instant appeal. The trial judge denied the
motion. The appellant opted not to present evidence of his
own, but he asked the judge to take judicial notice of what
the parole eligibility statute, Code § 53.1-151,
provided in 1986, and the judge agreed to do so. The
appellant also renewed his motion to strike. The judge denied
the motion insofar as it alleged that the Commonwealth had
failed to prove that the appellant was "the same
individual" convicted of the violent sex offenses in
1986. The judge took under advisement the issue of whether
the appellant was subject to the Act, along with a second
issue, not in dispute on appeal. The judge stated that as to
"[t]he other [issues]," she would "stand on
parties submitted post-trial memoranda. After reviewing the
submissions, the trial judge held "based on the case law
and the evidence presented" that the appellant was
"clear[ly] . . . subject to [the] re-registration
requirements" and failed to reregister in a timely
fashion. Consequently, the court denied the appellant's
motion to strike. It found him guilty of one count of failing
to reregister and one count of failing to reregister as a
second offense. The appellant was sentenced to five years for
the first offense and ten years for the second offense, with
all but one year three months suspended.
appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to
support his convictions for failing to reregister. He
contends that the evidence did not establish that he is
subject to the Act's provisions.
Standard of Review
principles of appellate review provide that, to the extent
that the appellant's assignments of error require
construction of the Act or interpretation of related case
law, the question is one of law reviewed de novo on
appeal. Colbert v. Commonwealth, 47 Va.App. 390, 394
(2006); see John Crane, Inc. v. Jones, 274 Va. 581,
586-87 (2007). However, where the issue is whether the
evidence is sufficient to support the conviction, the
appellate court must "affirm the judgment unless [it] is
plainly wrong or without evidence to support it."
Shell v. Commonwealth, 64 Va.App. 16, 20 (2014)
(quoting Smallwood v. Commonwealth, 278 Va. 625, 629
(2009)). In conducting this review, the court "view[s]
the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth,
granting to it all reasonable inferences fairly
deducible" from the evidence. Id. (quoting
Baylor v. Commonwealth, 55 Va.App. 82, 84 (2009)).
The pivotal question is whether under the evidence, so
viewed, "any rational trier of fact could have found the
essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt." Purvy v. Commonwealth, 59 Va.App. 260,
272 (2011) (quoting Sullivan v. Commonwealth, 280
Va. 672, 676 (2010)). "If there is [supporting] evidence
. . ., the reviewing court is not permitted to substitute its
own judgment, even if its opinion might differ from the
conclusions reached by the finder of fact at the trial."
Synan v. Commonwealth, 67 Va.App. 173, 185 (2017)
(quoting Courtney v. Commonwealth, 281 Va. 363, 366
in an appellate court's assessment of a sufficiency
challenge, circumstantial evidence "is as competent . .
. as direct evidence" to prove the elements of a crime,
"provided it is sufficiently convincing to exclude every
reasonable hypothesis except that of guilt." Simon
v. Commonwealth, 58 Va.App. 194, 206 (2011) (quoting
Coleman v. Commonwealth, 226 Va. 31, 53 (1983)). The
Commonwealth, however, "need only exclude reasonable
hypotheses of innocence that flow from the evidence, not
those that spring from the imagination of the
defendant." Id. (quoting Hamilton v.
Commonwealth, 16 Va.App. 751, 755 (1993)). "The
reasonable-hypothesis principle . . . is 'simply another
way of stating that the Commonwealth has the burden of proof
beyond a reasonable doubt.'" Commonwealth v.
Moseley, 293 Va. 455, 464 (2017) (quoting
Commonwealth v. Hudson, 265 Va. 505, 513 (2003)).
The fact finder "determines which reasonable inferences
should be drawn from the evidence and whether to reject as
unreasonable the hypotheses of innocence advanced by a
defendant." Id. Consequently, whether the
evidence excludes all reasonable hypotheses of innocence is a
"question of fact," and like any other factual
finding, it is subject to "revers[al] on appeal only if
plainly wrong." See, e.g., Thorne v.
Commonwealth, 66 Va.App. 248, 254 (2016) (quoting
Stevens v. Commonwealth, 38 Va.App. 528, 535
Act and Registry
to the Act, "[e]very person convicted" of one or
more specified offenses "on or after July 1,
1994, . . . shall register and reregister" with the
registry. Code § 9.1-901 (emphasis added) (referencing
the offenses set forth in Code § 9.1-902). The Act also
requires "[e]very person" convicted before
July 1, 1994, who is "serving a sentence of
confinement" or "under community supervision"
for such an offense "on or after" that
date to "register and reregister." Id.
(emphasis added). The Act subdivides the offenses requiring
registration and reregistration into a variety of categories,
including "sexually violent offense[s]." Code
failure to register or reregister in a timely fashion is a
violation of Code § 18.2-472.1. The penalty for such a
failure is higher for one whose predicate conviction is for
"a sexually violent offense." Compare Code