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Kokinda v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

June 26, 2017

JASON KOKINDA, Defendant Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.

          Submitted: April 3, 2017

         Court Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware C.A. No. N16M-03-197

          Before STRINE, Chief Justice; VALIHURA and SEITZ, Justices.

          ORDER

          Leo E. Strine, Jr. Chief Justice

         This 26th day of June 2017, it appears to the Court that:

         (1) The appellant, Jason Kokinda, has appealed the Superior Court's January 4, 2017 order affirming a Commissioner's order granting the State's motion to designate Kokinda as a Tier II sex offender in Delaware. The appellee, the State of Delaware, has filed a motion to affirm the Superior Court's judgment on the ground that it is manifest on the face of Kokinda's opening brief that the appeal is without merit.

         (2) In 2008, Kokinda was indicted in the Superior Court of New Jersey for the offense of Endangering Welfare of Children Second Degree. At the time of the indictment, the New Jersey statute under which Kokinda was charged defined Endangering Welfare of Children Second Degree as:

Any person who knowingly receives for the purpose of selling or who knowingly sells, procures, manufactures, gives, provides, lends, trades, mails, delivers, transfers, publishes, distributes, circulates, disseminates, presents, exhibits, advertises, offers or agrees to offer, through any means, including the Internet, any photograph, film, video tape, computer program file, video game or any other reproduction or reconstruction which depicts a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act, is guilty of a crime of the second degree.[1]

         In 2009, Kokinda pled guilty to Endangering Welfare of Children Second Degree and was sentenced to a period of incarceration.

         (3) All states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have laws providing for the mandatory registration of sex offenders and corresponding community notification.[2] Delaware's sex offender registry is governed by a statutory scheme, [3] which provides, in relevant part, that individuals convicted of certain sex offenses in Delaware-as well as individuals convicted of comparable sex offenses in other states and residing in Delaware-must comply with Delaware's sex offender registration requirements.[4]

         (4) Following his release from incarceration in New Jersey, Kokinda moved to Delaware. Kokinda registered with the Delaware State Police as a Delaware sex offender on November 3, 2015.

         (5) On March 30, 2016, the State moved to designate Kokinda as a Tier II sex offender.[5] The State based the motion on a claim that Kokinda's New Jersey conviction of Endangering Welfare of Children Second Degree was comparable to the offense of Dealing in Child Pornography, a class B felony, found in 11 Del. C. § 1109. Subsection 3 of 11 Del. C. § 1109 provides that a person is guilty of Dealing in Child Pornography when:

The person knowingly distributes or disseminates, by means of computer or any other electronic or digital method, or by shows or viewings, any motion picture, video or other visual depiction of a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or the simulation of such an act. The possession or showing of such motion pictures shall create a rebuttable presumption of ownership thereof for the purposes of distribution or dissemination.[6]

         (6) On April 25, 2016, the Superior Court held a hearing on the motion to designate Kokinda as a Tier II sex offender. Kokinda submitted a "motion in opposition to sex offender classification" and made an oral presentation opposing the motion to designate. Kokinda's position, fairly summarized, was that certain defects in his underlying New Jersey conviction-namely, that his guilty plea was coerced-should act as a bar to the State's efforts to classify him as a sex offender in Delaware. In response, the State argued that Kokinda could not use the sex offender registry proceeding in Delaware as a forum to collaterally attack his New Jersey conviction. At the ...


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