The recent case of a 51-year-old registered sex offender who was awarded custody of a 4-year-old girl has made national and worldwide headlines and shows how damaging a sex crime conviction can be.
Many sex crimes in Jacksonville and throughout Florida require a person to register as a sex offender, a penalty that can last for a lifetime. And that’s on top of possible prison time, probation, fines and fees and other sanctions. That’s why hiring an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney is necessary — in order to protect the rights of anyone accused of a sex crime in Florida.
In this case, a 51-year-old man was convicted of sexual battery on a child in 1997 after impregnating a 14-year-old. After serving time in prison, the two got married and he fathered two more children with her, according to News4Jax.com. After the woman had an affair that resulted in the birth of a girl, she died in a car accident.
The man sought custody of the girl, saying he and his wife promised each other they would take care of the children if anything happened to them. A judge in Macclenny recently awarded custody to the man, who is her legal father. His other daughters are 8, 10 and 13, the news station reports.
While family members have begged for custody, supporters say the man loves his children and has done nothing wrong.
But the spotlight has been on him because of his past. While most defendants serve their time in jail or prison and go on with life, people convicted of sex crimes spend their lives with the proverbial “scarlet letter” attached for life.
In Florida, many sex crime convictions require people register as a sex offender for life. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there are thousands of registered sex offenders. And those sex offenders are part of a larger, national registry available to anyone in the world.
In Florida’s sex offender registry, citizens can search by neighborhood or by person and they are able to get a photo, identifying marks, such as tattoos and where the person lives. Notices are sent out to neighbors by law enforcement when they move into a neighborhood, even if it’s been 30 years since they were convicted of a crime.
That’s why fighting these crimes aggressively is so important. Young people charged with these crimes may be so scared they take the first plea offer from the state. But they don’t realize the long-term implications. Even if there’s less prison time involved, they could be stuck being on the registry forever.
And having to register as a sexual offender can come with a conviction for a number of different crimes. Take for instance a case last fall out of Miami. The Miami Herald reports that a federal prosecutor was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior in front of a minor under 16 because he swam in a hotel pool in his boxers and when he got out, his genitalia was exposed.
This is an obvious case of an accident, but yet the prosecutor — a man whose job it is to seek convictions of criminal defendants — faces a charge himself. And under the circumstances, he could be subjected to conviction and registry in the sex offender database as a result of taking a swim in his boxer shorts.
There are other, more serious examples of people who are convicted of rape, sexual battery and crimes against children, who appear in the registry. But there are also seemingly innocent defendants who appear in the registry as well. There have been examples of people who are 18 and have consensual sex with a minor who was their girlfriend or boyfriend only to go through a break-up and face criminal charges.
Working toward a resolution may be an option, but so may be beating the charges altogether, depending on the evidence. Anything can and will be challenged by an aggressive Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer. Call today for an appointment.
The Forbess Law Firm has been helping clients facing criminal charges in Jacksonville for more than a decade and are here to provide constitutionally required criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today through our website. Or call us at 904-634-0900.
Federal prosecutor charged with lewd conduct, by Jay Weaver, The Miami Herald