November 25, 2015

Criminally Yours: Sex In Vegas

11-24-15 Nevada:

I spent the weekend in Las Vegas not having fun, but taking a CLE on how to defend sex assault cases, particularly those involving Internet child porn.

Lawyers came from all over the country, even states with populations as small as Wyoming, where there are more cows than people.

Why? Because Internet porn is the latest bugaboo of local and federal enforcement agencies, especially in remote areas where the Internet is the only game in town. Money is being pumped into these investigations and arrests, and excuses like I didn’t know it was on my computer, or I was hacked, or I never looked at it, even if these excuses may be true, will not save the target from humiliation, expense, and likely jail.

And beware, even if it’s just your 14-year-old kid fooling around on peer-to-peer sites in his “experimentation” phase — he’s liable, and could be marked a sex offender for life.

I’m not defending child porn or sex crimes (although I do defend people accused of these crimes), but try to get a fair jury in one of these cases and then a fair sentence if the person is found guilty — it’s almost impossible. Of all the crimes to pull, this is the one that taints the most.

In the good ol’ days, film director Roman Polanski could be offered a sentence of probation for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor (the alleged victim was 13!). Nowadays, he’d not only be denied a plea offer, but he’d be doing 40 to life in prison.

Here’s the other thing I learned at the conference — it’s not only the jail sentence that punishes the defendant, it’s the very real repercussions of sex registration that, for many, last for life, and that stigmatizes not only the accused, but his entire family. The new Scarlet Letter. ..Continued.. by Toni Messina who has been practicing criminal defense law since 1990, although during law school she spent one summer as an intern in a large Boston law firm and realized quickly it wasn’t for her. Prior to attending law school, she worked as a journalist from Rome, Italy, reporting stories of international interest for CBS News and NPR.

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