Criminal Charge: Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Case: State v. Joe Dennis Winton
Court: [Lamar County][Cause 26115]
Result: Not Guilty
Docket View: Docket sheet stricken because the Defendant was found not guilty.
Mr. Winton was charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender about 10 weeks after he discharged a life sentence in September 2015. He had been in the Texas Department of Corrections for about 28 years. Because of his prior convictions, he was looking at another 5-99 years in the penitentiary.
Lamar County officials alleged Joe knowingly and intentionally failed to apply for an annually renewable license within 30 days of his release. A Lamar County deputy interviewed Joe on videotape immediately after the arrest and got Joe to say he knew he was obligated to apply for this license instead of the normal license of a longer duration – even though Joe went on to explain he just forgot this requirement among the many others he was complying with.
The prosecutor played the video showing Joe “confess” to “knowingly” failing to get the right license, but the jury also heard Deputy Joel Chipman testify on direct that minor sex offenses like indecent exposure do not require registration. During Haslam’s cross-examination, Chipman admitted that indecent exposure CAN BE a registrable offense.
Perhaps it was watching a deputy sworn to tell the truth forget just which offenses are registrable that persuaded the jurors that Joe – like Chipman – may have known the law but simply forgot it in good faith. After sitting in jail 9 months awaiting trial, Joe was acquitted in 30 minutes by his jury.