On August 21, 2008, the trial court accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Nichols. On September 5, 2008, after a conference call with counsel for both Nichols and the State, the trial court issued an order clarifying the consecutive sentencing. The order also stated that Nichols would be required to register as a sex offender for a period of ten years based upon the parties’ and the court’s agreed understanding . . . .
. . . On March 5, 2009, the DOC sent a letter to the trial court regarding the ten-year registration period ordered by the court. The DOC stated that the trial court’s order appeared to be in error, that Nichols had committed unrelated offenses, and that as a result the DOC had determined that Nichols was required to register as a sex offender for life; the DOC therefore classified Nichols thus in the Sex Offender Registry. On March 11, 2009, the trial court forwarded copies of the DOC’s letter to the parties and notified them that it would take no action with regard to the DOC’s decision unless one of the parties sought the court’s intervention.
In response to the DOC’s letter, on April 30, 2010, Nichols filed his Motion for Correction of Sex Offender Registry, pointing to the terms of the plea agreement and sentencing order and requesting that the trial court order the DOC to revise his status on the state’s Sex Offender Registry to a ten-year registration period. The DOC filed its response on May 20, 2010. On June 2, 2010, the trial court denied Nichols’s motion.
. . . .
Nichols also contends that even if the trial court did not err in its interpretation of the statute, he must only be required to register as a sex offender for ten years because the DOC, not the trial court, imposed the lifetime registration requirement upon him, and this was contrary to the trial court’s sentencing order. . . . The State also argues that determination of the length of the sex offender registration requirement imposed upon Nichols, like decisions on prison placement, is within the discretion of the DOC and courts have no role in such decisions.5 [5 Particularly telling is the State’s assertion that “the DOC does in fact have the authority to determine registration requirements.” (Appellee’s Br. 16.) For the reasons we set forth below, this statement is simply incorrect.] Indeed, the State insists that the DOC is required by statute to engage in this activity with respect to Nichols because it is required to make this determination with respect to individuals convicted of sex offenses outside of Indiana. Though neither party’s argument is correct, we affirm the trial court.
The Sex Offender Registration Act requires that the DOC maintain a registry of sex offenders, and requires that offenders register with the Department. Placement on the Registry is mandatory, and the Act affords neither the trial court nor the DOC any discretion in the matter of the registration requirements. In re. G.B., 709 N.E.2d 352, 354-55 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). Plea agreements “have no effect on operation of the Act.” Id. at 356; see also Wallace v. State, 878 N.E.2d 1269, 1275 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008) (applying In re G.B. to a pre-Act plea agreement), aff’d in relevant part, vacated in part on other grounds, 905 N.E.2d 371 (Ind. 2009).
Among the information to be included on the Registry is whether the offender is required to register for ten years or for life. I.C. § 11-8-8-8(a)(6). The DOC is required by statute to maintain this information in the Registry. I.C. § 11-8-2-12.4(1), (2) & (5); I.C. § 11-8-2-13. Where, as here, an offender is placed on probation without being committed to the DOC, the probation office is required to provide to the Department the presentencing report, sentencing order, and any other information necessary for the DOC to properly populate and maintain the Registry. I.C. § 11-8-8-9(d). This, as well as the requirement that the DOC perform a similar function for individuals convicted of offenses outside of Indiana, see I.C. § 11-8-8-20(c), indicate that the Department makes a determination as to the required registration period and publishes that determination through the Registry.
None of this, however, means that the DOC “overruled” the trial court, nor does it mean that the DOC, rather than the trial court, determines the length of an offender’s reporting period. This is so despite the language in the DOC’s letter to the trial court indicating that “we have determined that Mr. Nichols … is required to register for life under IC 11-8-8-19(e).” (App. 63.) Whether the reporting period is ten years or for a lifetime is instead a consequence of the operation of the Act itself. Whether an individual has violated a reporting obligation is a matter ultimately determined in a full criminal proceeding after the State charges an offender with failure to register under the Act. See I.C. § 11-8-8-17 (establishing the offense of failure to register and setting classes of offense for sentencing purposes). The DOC instead made a determination required by law as to the length of Nichols’s reporting period in order to properly track information in the Registry. This period is determined by the statute itself—not by the plea agreement, not by the trial court, and not—contrary to the State’s argument in its brief—by the DOC.
The DOC’s decision in Nichols’s case was a correct application of the reporting requirements to Nichols’s conviction for the DOC’s administrative purposes—but it is a decision without direct effect upon Nichols’s substantive rights. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Nichols’s motion to correct error.
FRIEDLANDER, J., and BROWN, J., concur.