Raleigh Criminal Attorneys Share Insights into Children Accused of Sex Crimes
When she was 10 years old, Charla Roberts pulled down the pants of an elementary school classmate. It was a childish prank – but it landed her on the state’s sex offender registry after being prosecuted for “indecency with a child.” Roberts’ name stayed on the list until her early 20s. Even after it was removed, information about her sex offender record stayed online, free for anyone to read and judge.
The New Yorker details Roberts’ story, as well as those of other juvenile sex offenders named in registries throughout the country. They share a common theme: how a singular act in their youth, which they may not have properly understood, continued to stigmatize them into adulthood.
Asked about the incident years later, the boy whose pants Roberts pulled down said what happened was an act of “public humiliation, instead of a sexual act.”
Should juvenile sex offenders’ records be made public?
Cases like Roberts’ have prompted debates around the country on whether juveniles should be listed on public registries for sex-related offenses. Perspectives recognize that some juvenile offenders are indeed threats, but that label can hamper their transition into becoming responsible adults.
Courts in Raleigh recognize the complexities of such cases and abide by the following rules on juvenile sex offender registration:
“[States like North Carolina] give courts discretion to weigh fact-specific circumstances to determine whether registration will be required of an adjudicated juvenile. Offense alone would not automatically trigger registration requirement and courts are allowed to determine if circumstances specific to the young person and the case make registration necessary in the public interest.”
At Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, we understand that registry laws function like a modern-day version of stocks: public knowledge of one’s crime is its own form of punishment. Following high-profile sex crimes against children in the 1990s, registries do provide some value in maintaining public safety.
However, it is unfortunate that some juveniles will endure a lifetime of shame even if they were on a registry for only a short time. Our criminal attorneys believe the justice system should focus on treatment rather than punishment.
What should you do if a minor you know has been accused of a sex crime?
As the stories of Charla Roberts and other individuals show, the consequences of a sex crime conviction will likely have lifelong impact.
If you – or a minor you know – has been accused of a sex crime in the Greater Raleigh Area, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal attorney to handle your case right away. A defense team like ours knows that whether the accused is a juvenile or adult, their conviction can hinge on how the facts of a case are portrayed, and how the nuances of each action are understood.
Kurtz & Blum, PLLC can help get your side of the story told and protect your rights. Give us a call today at 919-832-7700.
- The List: When juvenile are found guilty of sexual misconduct, the sex-offender registry can be a life sentence. The New Yorker. March 14, 2016.
- Juvenile Sex Offender Registration and SORNA. National Conference of State Legislatures. May 2011.