A Response to the Growing Suspicion of Unfair Penalties Given to Sex Offenders
In a recent article written on Slate.com, Matt Mellema talked about the unforeseeable consequences of being tough on sex crimes. Arizona is among the toughest on sex crimes and people face very serious penalties if they are found guilty of these offenses. The marking of a, “sex offender” does irrevocable damage to the accused, as well as his or her family and friends. Given the serious connotation that this label yields, many people don’t realize that someone can carry a “sex offender” label if they do things like urinate in public, flash their breasts, or have sex in a public space. And, while it is inappropriate to willingly subject an unknowing and unwilling individual to lewd or indecent exposure, it is often unfair to lump the public urination violators with the more serious offenses of child molest and rape.
Non-Sexual Offenses can result in Registration
In the State of Arizona, non-sexual offenses can require sex offender registration and notification if a judge finds sexual motivation by the defendant. Also, registration and community notification laws may apply to juvenile offenses until the age of 25 even though the act happened when they were a juvenile. To educate the public in Arizona, Castillo Law will be discussing the particular sex crimes that call into question why we should re-think punishment for some of these crimes.
Sexual Conduct with a Minor Charge
The most prevalent concern in regard to being overly tough on sex crimes is age difference. For instance, if a 19 year old has consensual sex with a 16 year old, he or she could face a Sexual Conduct with a Minor Charge, which is a class six felony under A.R.S. 13-1405. If the victim is one day away from his or her 15th birthday, but the defendant is 19, the defendant will be charged with a class two felony and will be held without bond. Then, this 19 year old could potentially be placed on a sex offender list, and could have his or her life changed forever. Even if the sex is consensual, the defendant could still be found guilty, and that means he or she would have a hard time finding a job without having to explain the sex crime on his or her record. He or she could also face public ridicule and bring shame to his or her family. Further, this could entail irreparable emotional scarring and creating future relationships could become more difficult.
Dangerous Crime Against Children
In the same vein, if a 17 year old was having sex with someone that was very close to his or her 15th birthday, but still 14, he or she could be charged with a dangerous crime against children (if charged as an adult) and could face a class two felony. This means that, if convicted, he or she is required to go to prison for a minimum of 13 years and a maximum of 20. During the time the individual is waiting for trial, the individual would be held in custody without bond. This is concerning because, even if the 14 year old is two days away from his or her 15th birthday, the 17 year old will still receive this life changing charge. If the 17 year old had consensual sex with someone 15 years old or above, he or she would face no charge whatsoever.
Not all sex crimes are the same, yet…
Under the convicting or adjudicating jurisdictions, a sex offender must submit their information to a sex offender registry. The purpose of the sex offender website is to provide sex offender information to the public to keep the community safe. This website provides the name, age, current and confirmed address, and picture of the offender, as well as a map of all the schools and daycares nearby. Anybody that searches an offender’s name through Google will find the sex offender registry in the search results. Since the charges are intentionally made public, it should follow that the scenario regarding the conviction be specified. Yet, all of the offenders are looped into one site. What’s more, the site has a set of fast facts that indicate things like: “Sex offenders often like playgrounds and other places where children congregate.” Whereas, it might not be true that the 21 year old that was caught urinating in the back of a bar likes to hang out at playgrounds, this is the information and the connotation provided and connected to him.
Castillo Law Phoenix will never make excuses or condone sex crime violations. However, we do understand that people make mistakes, and due to the severity of the punishment for sex crime violations in Arizona, those mistakes may change someone’s life irrevocably. We will continue our series on sex crimes with an article on indecent exposure and public sexual indecency coming soon. Remember, if you ever face a criminal charge, consult an attorney immediately.