Perhaps no offense is more damaging to juvenile offenders than a sexual offense. The consequences teens face for committing a sexual offense run much deeper than merely serving time in a juvenile facility. Too often, teen sex offenders’ lives are completely dismantled as a result of being placed on the sex offender registry — a lifetime sentence.
There are dozens of stories of sex offenders who were registered as teens who have faced extremely dire consequences simply for being on the registry. These stories highlight the most prominent issues with placing youthful offenders on the registry. If you, as a minor, have been accused of a sexual offense, it is crucial to defend yourself. If you are as a parent or guardian of a youth who has been accused of a sexual offense, it is necessary to align your child with a strong criminal defense attorney who protects the rights of youthful offenders. The consequences of a conviction for a sexual offense will likely stick around long after the child has learned from his or her mistakes.
How Can Sex Offender Status Affect Me or My Child?
As a registered sex offender, you are forced to arrange your life on the basis of your criminal past. Sex offenders are required to adhere to strict zoning and residency restrictions, which means you have very few options as far as where to live and where you can travel. Teen sex offenders who grow into adulthood may continue to face these restrictions after they turn 18. They may be barred from going near a school, library, park, or anywhere kids tend to group even after they have kids of their own. Oftentimes, sex offenders face death threats and harassments that many claim worsen with age.
Due to the constant barrage of negative attention, many sex offenders drop out of higher education after their peers discover their status. They miss swaths of opportunities for becoming productive members of society, despite the supposed purpose of the juvenile justice system: to rehabilitate offenders.
As a sex offender, your entire family can suffer for mistakes you made in your childhood. You may have served time in a juvenile facility to account for your actions, but the repercussions of being a sex offender are for life. This is despite the lack of empirical data that shows communities are safer when teens are placed on sex offender registry. In fact, the data shows otherwise. The majority of teen sex offenders will not commit a subsequent offense, and recidivism rates are extremely low amongst teen offenders when compared to their adult counterparts.
This is perhaps due to the fact that many teens commit sexual offenses without even knowing they are doing anything wrong or without intent for committing wrong. Teens are often in a state where they are sexually curious, prone to risk-taking, and highly susceptible to peer pressure. This often leads to impulsive and inappropriate behavior. In addition, the brain is not fully developed until the mid-twenties, particularly in the prefrontal cortex — the area responsible for planning, evaluating risk, reasoning, issuing judgment, and controlling impulses. According to Elizabeth Letourneau with the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Mental Health who has written many reports on juvenile sexual offenders, “a lot of youth we see engage in awful crimes mature out of those behaviors thanks to cognitive development.”
Finally, grouping nonviolent teen sex offenders in with the most vicious of sex offenders serves to fatten up the sex offender registry without actually helping police determine where resources are most needed. The sex offender registry regards nonviolent offenders as equals to violent offenders and does not distinguish teens from hardened criminals. This does not serve the community at large but rather hurts teen offenders.
It is in your best interests to speak with a strong criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach who handles juvenile offenses if you are facing the possibility of registering as a teen sex offender, or if your child has been charged with a sexual offense. For over 30 years, attorney Brian Gabriel has dedicated his career to protecting the rights of those who are criminally accused. Call 561-622-5575 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation, absolutely free.