A conviction for a sex crime can destroy a person's life. Beside the stigma that comes with this type of offense, many people will also spend at least some amount of time in prison. In some cases, the harsh penalties that come as a result of a conviction are in line with the offense and the sentencing guidelines in place.
In other cases, however, the punishment does not fit the crime. Thanks to overzealous prosecutors and the particularly severe view people have on someone accused of sexual misconduct, it is entirely possible for a person to face an unfair and inappropriate sentence, even for a relatively minor offense.
For instance, a Florida man was charged with "lewd, lascivious or indecent act upon a child" in 2000 after having sex with and impregnating his girlfriend. She was 15 at the time, though she had told the man she was 17.
Initially, the man was placed on probation for 10 years and labeled as a sex offender. Four years after the initial sentence, the man was caught with cocaine, which was a violation of the terms of his probation.
A judge reviewed his drug offense and then took into account his previous sex offense, ultimately determining that a 27-year prison sentence was suitable. The outrageous sentence was enforced for more than 11 years before the man's pleas for clemency were finally granted.
Recently, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet agreed to release the man from prison more than 13 years early. He will be on probation and under house arrest, but if he can comply with the terms of his release for a year, a full pardon will be granted and the crime will be cleared from his record, as will the label of sex offender.
While this is certainly good news, it is not something that we read about every day. For every person released for these types of offenses, countless others are not so lucky. With this in mind, we urge our readers to take seriously any charges stemming from sexual misconduct and/or violations of probation and seek the help of an aggressive, experienced criminal defense attorney.
Source: Miami Herald, "Florida man freed from prison early -- underage romance led to 'sex offender' tag, harsh sentence," Kristen M. Clark, March 30, 2016