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Sex crime offenders and victims are often close in age

A recent article profiled the demographic of alleged sexual assault offenders. The results may surprise Florida readers.

In most sexual assault crimes, the alleged offender and the victim are close to each other in age. For example, other juveniles, rather than adults, commit most of the alleged sexual assault offenses involving juvenile victims. The same is true for adult victims: the alleged perpetrator is most likely also an adult. More than half of sexual assault victims also know the alleged sex offender. In over half of all alleged sex crimes involving a minor, the victim knew the alleged offender, perhaps at the level of an acquaintance. That percentage increased to nearly 73% in cases where the victim was between the ages of 12 and 17.

Given that similarity in age between many offenders and their victims, some criminal justice analysts are questioning the rationale behind prosecuting juvenile defendants as adults. The distinction between a conviction as an adult or a juvenile will make a big difference.

Whereas juvenile crimes might be sealed and not become part of an individual’s permanent record, a sex crime conviction as an adult may require registration in the sex offender registry and result in a permanent record. That status, in turn, may hamper career development and prevent living in certain areas with zoning restrictions against offenders.

Prosecutors often have some discretion in the way they handle cases. If that’s true, an experienced sex crimes attorney might be able to negotiate to have a juvenile offender tried as a minor, instead of as an adult. 

Source: cnn.com, “Report: Registry does more harm than good for teen sex offenders,” Emanuella Grinberg, May 1, 2013

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