Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Riggleman

Supreme Court of West Virginia

April 6, 2017

STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA, Respondent
v.
SHAWN THOMAS RIGGLEMAN, Petitioner

          Submitted: February 15, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Preston County The Honorable Lawrance S. Miller, Jr., Judge Civil Action No. 15-F-6

          Claire L. Niehaus, Esq. Public Defender Corporation Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Kingwood, West Virginia Counsel for Petitioner

          Patrick Morrisey, Esq. Attorney General David A. Stackpole, Esq. Assistant Attorney General Charleston, West Virginia Counsel for Respondent

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. "Where the issue on an appeal from the circuit court is clearly a question of law or involving an interpretation of a statute, we apply a de novo standard of review." Syl. Pt. 1, Chrystal R.M. v. Charlie A.L., 194 W.Va. 138, 459 S.E.2d 415 (1995).

         2. "The purpose of West Virginia Code § 27-6A-3 (Supp. 1996) is not to punish someone suffering a mental illness; rather, it is to treat the illness and protect society." Syl. Pt. 4, in part, State v. Smith, 198 W.Va. 702, 482 S.E.2d 687 (1996).

         3. "In determining whether a misdemeanor or felony involves an 'act of violence against a person' pursuant to W.Va. Code § 27-6A-3 (2007), a court's analysis is not limited by whether an 'act of violence against a person' is an element of the offense." Syl. Pt. 1, State v. George K., 233 W.Va. 698, 760 S.E.2d 512 (2014).

         4. "An 'act of violence against a person' within the meaning of W.Va. Code § 27-6A-3 (2007) encompasses acts that indicate the incompetent defendant poses a risk of physical harm, severe emotional harm, or severe psychological harm to children." Syl. Pt. 2, State v. George K., 233 W.Va. 698, 760 S.E.2d 512 (2014).

         5. Distributing and exhibiting material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct in violation of West Virginia Code § 61-8C-3 (2014) is a crime that "involve[s] an act of violence against a person" within the meaning of West Virginia Code § 27-6A-3(h) (2013) because it derives from and is proximately linked to physical, emotional, and psychological harm to children.

          WORKMAN, Justice:

         Petitioner Shawn Thomas Riggleman, who was indicted on a felony charge of possession of child pornography in violation of West Virginia Code § 61-8C-3 (2014), was found not competent to stand trial. The question presented in this appeal is whether the crime Petitioner is charged with "involve[s] an act of violence against a person" within the meaning of West Virginia Code § 27-6A-3(h) (2013), so that he would remain under the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Preston County until the expiration of the maximum sentence. The circuit court answered that question in the affirmative, and we agree.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In March 2015, a grand jury indicted Petitioner on one felony count of "Distributing and Exhibiting Material Depicting Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct" in violation of West Virginia Code § 61-8C-3. Petitioner was accused of electronically obtaining 100 or more pictures and videos via the internet that depicted pre-teen children engaged in sexual explicit conduct. West Virginia Code § 61-8C-3, provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Any person who, knowingly and willfully, sends or causes to be sent or distributes, exhibits, possesses, electronically accesses with intent to view or displays or transports any material visually portraying a minor engaged in any sexually explicit conduct is guilty of a felony.
(c) Any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this section when the conduct involves more than fifty but fewer than six hundred images shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned in a state correctional facility for not less than two nor more than ten years or fined not more than $5, 000, or both.
(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (b) and (c) of this section any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this section when the conduct involves six hundred or more images or depicts violence against a child or a child engaging in bestiality shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned in a state correctional facility for not less than five nor more than fifteen years or fined not more than $25, 000, or both.

         The circuit court ordered a forensic examination to determine Petitioner's competency to stand trial. It was initially decided that Petitioner was not competent, but might attain competency through restoration training. Petitioner underwent restoration training at Sharpe Hospital in Weston, West Virginia, for six months. In November 2015, a psychiatrist submitted his report to the circuit court that indicated Petitioner was not competent, and was unlikely to be restored to competency within the next three months. Petitioner did not dispute the psychiatrist's report.

         The circuit court held a hearing regarding Petitioner's competency and by order dated December 7, 2015, concluded that Petitioner's alleged crime - attaining and viewing images of children engaged in sexual acts via his computer - was a crime involving "an act of violence against a person" pursuant to West Virginia Code § 27-6A-3(h). The circuit court acknowledged the lack of West Virginia case law addressing this specific question; it relied upon State v. George K., 233 W.Va. 698, 760 S.E.2d 512 (2014), to frame the issue as whether downloading and accessing child pornography poses a risk of physical harm, severe emotional harm, or severe psychological harm to children. In addition, citing Osborne v. Ohio, 495 U.S. 103 (1990), the circuit court observed that one of the purposes of child pornography laws is to protect children by destroying the market for child pornography.

         The circuit court found (1) Petitioner admitted to the police that he affirmatively sought out child pornography on his computer over a five to six month period; (2) the material produced by child pornographers causes continuing harm to the child victims; (3) Petitioner caused, at least incrementally, an increase in the demand for child pornography; and (4) Petitioner's actions have helped lead to severe physical, emotional, and psychological harm to the children depicted in the images and videos that he downloaded. The circuit court ordered that Petitioner remain under its jurisdiction until the expiration of his maximum sentence, or until he attains competency and the charges are resolved, or the court dismisses the charges. See W.Va. Code § 27-6A-3(h).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In this appeal, Petitioner raises one assignment of error. He argues the circuit court erred by finding the crime charged under West Virginia Code § 61-8C-3 involves an act of violence to a person under the meaning of West Virginia Code § 27-6A-3(h). We have held that "[w]here the issue on an appeal from the circuit court is clearly a question of law or involving an interpretation of a statute, we apply a de ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.