In previous posts, we’ve discussed some of the criticisms levied against Florida prosecutors who charged a high school student with a sex crime for her same-sex relationship with a younger classmate.
The girl was 18 years old at the time of her alleged relationship with a younger classmate. When the younger girl’s parents learned of the relationship, they contacted authorities. An investigation ultimately resulted in sexual assault charges at the level of a second degree felony.
Since she was a legal adult at the time of the alleged incident, prosecutors charged the girl as they would an adult sex offender. The original charges implicated a potential 15-year prison sentence and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
Yet the case drew national media attention, as well as a barrage of support for the girl via an online petition. That support may have given the girl the confidence to reject a number of initial pleas. However, the current plea bargain was apparently too favorable to pass up, as it reduced the original charges to misdemeanor battery, as well as felony interference with child custody.
A sex crimes lawyer may question whether justice was really achieved in this case. For starters, the relationship was reportedly consensual, and both girls were classmates at the same high school. If the purpose of criminal laws is to protect potential victims from harm, one may question whether an ostensibly victimless crime warrants any punishment. Prosecutors often have discretion in whether to bring charges against a suspect, and it’s unclear what they hoped to accomplish in this instance.
Source: reuters.com, “Florida high-schooler takes plea deal in sex crime case,” Barbara Liston, Oct. 3, 2013