Readers of this blog may remember a post we wrote in June about a 17-year-old boy convicted and sentenced for having sex with a girl who was 14. In that post, which can be read in full here, we discussed the fact that the girl lied about her age and the sentence seemed heavy-handed and unnecessarily harsh.
The story captured national headlines and seemed to be the most recent example of a broken system destroying a person’s future. However, a recent development in this case has given people some hope that things can change.
According to recent reports, the judge who initially ruled in the case has overturned the sentence and the boy will now be re-sentenced by a new judge. This is quite significant because many people had issue with the original judge’s sentence, calling it overzealous and unreasonable.
Instead of granting the leniency asked for by the girl involved in the case and her mother, the judge ordered the 17-year-old to five years of probation and required him to register as a sex offender for 25 years. This sentence has devastated the man’s future as he had to move, cannot go to many restaurants or near schools and had to give up on his career aspirations of studying computer science.
It is very possible that a new judge will not hand down such a harsh sentence. The boy in this case had no criminal history and the girl with whom he had sex deliberately lied about her age and the two met through a website designated for people 18 and older. This last point was one that the original judge took issue with, calling such online meet-ups as “totally inappropriate.” It is possible that a new judge will not have such rigid and negative opinions about the online activities of teens.
Overturning a sentence is not something that happens every day so it is important to be aggressive in seeking a fair resolution in the first place. However, if a sentence is found to be overly harsh or in violation of a person’s rights, then it can be crucial to have the support of an attorney in pursuing an appeal.
Source: WSBT, “Sentence overturned for Elkhart-native on sex offender registry,” Zach Crenshaw, Sept. 9, 2015