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Florida teacher convicted in sex crime returns to probation

A 32-year-old female teacher from Florida whose sentence for a sex crime conviction had been frozen by a judge was recently ordered back under federal supervision.

The teacher had been serving a ten-year suspended sentence, received in 2005, for inappropriate sexual contacts with a minor. Specifically, she had been accused of having sex with a 14-year old student. The woman came under investigation after the boy's mother reported her to local authorities.

In 2011 -- a little over halfway through her sentence -- a judge took the woman off probation. Essentially, the judge froze the woman's sentence so that she could care for her newborn twin sons and a mother fighting cancer.

Yet the woman's reprieve from probation ended about a year later, when a different judge ordered the woman back under probation to serve the remainder of the 10-year sentence. The woman's attorney has brought an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court and is hoping for a favorable ruling in the next six months to a year.

Needless to say, the woman's teaching position ended shortly after her arrest for the sex crime. Yet that employment consequence is nothing compared to the lasting effects of her sentence: In addition to serving a suspended sentence, the woman will likely have to register as a sex offender and possibly even forfeit her teacher's license.

This story illustrates how criminal charges can have lasting consequences. Whereas a blip in an individual's employment history might not interfere with her ability to get other employment, a felony conviction, as well as sex offender registration, often must be disclosed on future job applications.

Sex crimes are among the most reviled offenses in our society. Defendants are often the subject of unwanted media attention, leading the public to make unfair prejudgments. For this reason, accused persons can sometimes feel like it is difficult to receive an unbiased trial. In such situations, defense attorneys can assist their clients by protecting their rights through the process, ensuring that the accused are given a chance to present a strong and well-reasoned defense.

Source: Gant Daily, "Florida teacher in sex case back on probation," Raquel Erhard, Jan. 25, 2013

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