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Youthful indiscretion can carry grownup consequences

Sex crimes involving minors in particular are looked at with a level of disgust that almost surely means being ostracized from the community at large following conviction. However, individuals can be accused of crimes that he or she did not commit. It is imperative to aggressively defend against accusations of sex crimes in order to mitigate the serious consequences and stigma associated with such a conviction.

Residents of New Jersey often yield little objection to forcing individuals convicted of charges relating to child pornography to lifelong registration as a sex offender in New Jersey. However, a conviction of child pornography may not always mean what the uninformed could be quick to assume. What about a defendant that is a juvenile facing charges of child pornography for nude pictures of him- or herself?

A 15-year-old high school female was charged out-of-state with manufacturing and disseminating child pornography when she photographed herself without clothing and posted the pictures on the Internet. This teen is by no means the only young female to make a poor decision and post inappropriate pictures, and she is by no means the last teen that will do so. Does that make these kids sex offenders?

Unfortunately, teens and children even younger can make foolish decisions, but they can be punished like adults. This 15-year-old was tried as an adult, and is still registered as a sex offender 8 years after her moment of indiscretion at the age of 15 years old.

It seems unthinkable for this to happen. This is not what sex offender registries are intended to do. However, a report called "Raised on the Register: The irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the U.S.," compiled hundreds of similar cases of young children begin convicted of sex crimes and having the remainder of their lives dictated by a conviction in middle school or high school.

Sex crime accusations always require a timely and sensitive handling, but when the allegations fall on the shoulders of a juvenile, it is particularly imperative to seek an aggressive defense. Unfortunately, even for a middle school or high school student, a conviction of a sex crime can absolutely destroy a bright future.

Source: The Center for Public Integrity, "Report details lives ruined for children put on sex-offender registries," Susan Ferriss, May 1, 2013

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