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    Being Convicted as a Sex Offender: What Can Be Done?

    Sex crimes are one of the most difficult cases to settle, especially if there are no witnesses and there’s a lack of evidence. While sex offenders should bear the consequences of their actions, it is not unheard of for someone to be convicted of rape, only for it to be proven years later that the allegations were false. 

    Still, sex offenders who were guilty of what they were charged with often go through a diversion program and successfully complete their probation period. They can be considered rehabilitated and fit members of society, but that still doesn’t change the fact that they will have the sex conviction on record probably forever.

    Being Convicted as a Sex Offender: What Can Be Done?

    Defining Sex Crimes:

    The definition of sex crimes is quite broad and includes the following:

    Child molestation
    Sexual conduct with a minor
    Cyber crimes 
    Child pornography
    Sexual assault and abuse
    Indecent exposure
    Sexual misconduct
    Sexual exploitation of a minor

    If convicted of a sex crime, the consequences can be quite serious. Apart from penalties and jail time, the person will be forced to register as a sex offender. This will leave a permanent mark on the person’s life in the future. It can be a determining factor for the person’s ability to find a job, rent a property or practice their civil rights. On top of that, being a registered sex offender can be really damaging towards the person’s reputation as they will need to live with public shaming. 

    One may argue that this is fair punishment for someone who has committed such an act, but the law can be too harsh on some occasions. A person who was caught urinating in public can be charged with indecent exposure and consequently will be required to register as a sex offender. They might not think this is fair since they had no intention to cause any discomfort to the public but are now treated in the same way as someone who has been charged with rape. 

    Dealing With False Allegations:

    In the last year, we’ve heard stories of women who came forward with allegations that they have been sexually abused. A lot of women joined the #MeToo movement and stories about high-profile individuals went public. The most controversial case was Dr Ford vs Kavanaugh - a case which echoed everywhere around the world. Regardless of which side you choose to stand on, this case is a clear indication of why it is very hard to discover the truth when it comes to sex crimes. 

    On the other hand, even though some of the allegations were undoubtedly true, it was proven that a lot of them were made up stories. In West Palm Beach, Marley Barberian is facing jail time for falsely accusing a deputy of raping her. She claimed that the deputy was driving her to jail and then turned off and parked in a secluded area where she sexually assaulted her. The police started an investigation on the 55-year old deputy only to find that the allegations were completely false. Barberian now is facing up to 5 years in prison. On top of those false allegations, Barberian also punched one of the deputies who went to arrest her at a Target store after she was caught shoplifting. 

    This is not an isolated case, more and more women who have falsely accused someone of sexual misconduct have to live with the consequences. 

    Can a Sex Crime Case Be Set Aside?

    The short answer is no, unless you have been wrongfully convicted and if you are granted a new trial where the initial conviction will be reversed. After you have been cleared, you might need to contact the Superior Court so that they can have your record cleared completely from all registers. 

    The state of Arizona does not have an expungement law. Still, it is possible to set aside misdemeanor or felony charges however that doesn’t mean that your criminal record will be erased. If you have been convicted of a sex crime, that will stay on your record even if you have successfully completed your probation. 

    What if You Have Been Falsely Accused?

    If you believe you have been falsely accused of sex crimes, the thing you should do immediately is contact a criminal justice attorney to take over your case. If you have done the mistake to go in court alone and were convicted, there is still hope if you can prove your innocence. An experienced attorney will be able to review the case you were convicted on and advise you on the best strategy to reverse the damage.

    The laws in Arizona allow for people who have successfully completed their probation periods to apply to have their convictions set aside. However, this will not be possible if you have been convicted of a sex crime. What is possible, however, is to have your charges dismissed or lowered if the sex crime in question was not a serious crime, like the indecent exposure example from before. 

    Dealing with a sex crime is a difficult thing for the defendant, the victim and the courts. Regardless if you are guilty or not, consulting a criminal justice attorney can prove to be of great benefit to your case. While they might not be able to set aside your conviction and have your record wiped off, they will fight your case and try to minimize your charges as much as possible. 

    Author bio: Liz S. Coyle is the Director of Client Services for JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law. She also serves as a paralegal for the Family Law Department. She is responsible for internal and external communications for the firm.

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