Legal advice regarding a statutory rape conviction
October 27, 2004 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Legal advice question - statutory rape. More inside.

A friend's older brother was convicted of statutory rape when he was 18. I believe his girlfriend at the time was 15 or 16.

He was a drug baby and possibly FAS. He wasn't horribly impacted by it, but his mental age is a few years behind. I have a hard time seeing what he did as a crime since the girl was likely more mature than he was at the time.

Its 4 years later and he is having trouble finding a job due in large part to the big red "SEX OFFENDER" stamped on his record. Is he fucked or is there any way he can contest it?

The whole thing hardly seems fair.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht to Law & Government (15 answers total)
You do realize, I'm saying this up front, you're going to get a lot of flack about this. After me the flood, eh?

No, this will be very hard to do unless you have a very good creative lawyer. Unless new evidence surfaces about his mental incompetence and this is retried there is little chance this will be off the record. These are laws on the books and people are very passionate about it. Again, I'm most likley in a different state then you so your laws will vary -- I doubt by much. I am not a lawyer, and when a certain friend we'll call Mr. L was asked, he laughed and then laughed some more. You see if there's one thing people get illogical and passionate about it is sex offenses. You'd literally have better luck overturning a murder conviction.
posted by geoff. at 9:39 PM on October 27, 2004

it just seems fucked. Weren't s. rape laws meant to protect children from middle aged perverts? Its my understanding that these sorts of cases generally aren't persued anymore.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 9:49 PM on October 27, 2004

(I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice)

The time is probably long passed for any action concerning his conviction itself; he cannot get it appealed or overturned now. As for how to try get his name off "the list", I have no idea. These sorts of things vary greatly by state, but my gut reaction is that he's screwed (no pun intended).
posted by falconred at 10:03 PM on October 27, 2004

Paraphrasing: "Yes they are, but in some states they have Romeo & Juliet Laws which prevent say a senior being tried for statutory rape with a junior. But most likely this would have been evoked if that was the case." He'd also like to make it clear that he does not thing all rape cases are illogical, but when it comes high school relationships families sometimes get angry when someone gets pregnant and yells rape when everyone involved was mentally capable and consenting. He goes on to say, "I don't know the details but a lot of times statutory rape is called into question when the girl gets pregnant and they don't want the boyfriend to have anything to do with the baby." He also wants to FURTHER state, being a lawyer and all, that he does not specialize in this at all and could be totally wrong -- but probably isn't off by much.
posted by geoff. at 10:05 PM on October 27, 2004

Oh and he is not a lawyer by any means what so ever. It is not legal advice at all.

Hire a lawyer, sit down with him and see what the options are.
posted by geoff. at 10:06 PM on October 27, 2004

*Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. Do not rely on this commentary. Seek counsel from a lawyer. I am not your lawyer.*

The statutory rape laws of most states do not require "scienter," or intent. The fact that the defendant is over 18 and the girl is below the statutory age is enough to convict. Some states allow a defense based on the argument that the girl induced the defendant to believe that she was over the statutory age, but that varies from state to state. The Curmudgeonly Clerk has a long discussion of the policies underlying statutory rape here. Be sure to see the comments and trackbacks for additional commentary.

The time has almost certainly passed to challenge the conviction. Of course, you should consult with a lawyer to determine whether the time to appeal has run. However, many states offer a procedure to have the name removed from the sex offender list without challenging the conviction itself. For example, here is a document detailing the procedure in Colorado. Each state likely has different standards for determining when a name is eligible for removal from the list and different procedures for doing so. I know I've said this already, but here it is again: do some research on the applicable law in your own state, and consult a lawyer knowledgable about that law.

Good luck.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:10 AM on October 28, 2004

it just seems fucked.


Weren't s. rape laws meant to protect children from middle aged perverts?

Not necessarily. They were meant to protect weak-willed "children" from the pressures of "adults." Unfortunately, the law doesn't work well with arbitrary, vague categories like "maturity level" or "emotional age." It has to use shortcuts, or proxies, like "under 18" and "over 18."

Its my understanding that these sorts of cases generally aren't persued anymore.

I don't think that's true, although like many things it probably depends on the community in question.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:32 AM on October 28, 2004

I'm thinking that a well worded letter may have some mitigating effect. I'd use it in the following way (though i'm just a guy, not a really experienced job seeker or employment professional):

1. Apply for a job.
2. Interview for the job.
3. If the interview goes well and the company runs criminal background checks, write a (paper) letter to the company in question, being upfront about what the criminal background check will produce. Hand deliver it if you must, to make sure the letter is read before the background check is run.

Explain the facts of the case, the pain that you caused, your understanding of how delicate these kinds of things can be, and the like. Sound like a guy, who, at 18, made some bad decisions (didn't we all), but who is a responsible adult and has some perspective on the situation.

4. Hope for the best.

Perhaps this has been already tried? I'd just make damn sure that something crazy in my past was disclosed by me, and not discovered by the background check.
posted by zpousman at 7:54 AM on October 28, 2004

I guess my suggestions are not legal advice. Sorry.
posted by zpousman at 7:55 AM on October 28, 2004

I'm not a legal expert, but I would think one can be de-registered if they are pardoned or absolved of their conviction. That would probably be only doable by the governor of your state, and only likely if you had the former defendant issue a statement of forgiveness and support of a pardon. Politicians tend to have no interest in putting "pardoned a convicted child molester" on their record unless there's an airtight positive angle to it.

Other than that, I'd say call a really, really good lawyer because I'm pretty sure the only way to be removed from a convicted felon list is to no longer be a convicted felon, and pardons and retrial-overturnings are the only way to have a conviction stricken from your record.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:25 AM on October 28, 2004

Your friend is going to have a hard time - it's just a reality for all ex-cons, and it's probably more true for people with sex offender convictions. See Jesse Friedman's website (from Capturing the Friedmans) for his story.

Potential employers are thinking that they will be held liable if the employee does something bad to someone in a job-related activity. For example, suppose he gets a job at a carpet cleaning company, and goes out to people's homes to do his work. If a customer complains that something bad happened, and they sue the company, the customer's lawyer is going to be licking his chops about the fact that the company hired a known sex offender. It may not be fair, but from the employer's side, it's not personal, it's just a matter of diligence.

Many ex-cons are only able to get employed at places that have experience dealing with people with problematic past behaviors. This is why many ex-cons get into business for themselves, like being free lance handymen, or like that.
posted by jasper411 at 11:56 AM on October 28, 2004

Tryptophan-5ht You don't say where your friend is. In Canada you can apply for a pardon at the federal level that will block your federal conviction record from being available. However certain sexual offences (and I can't imagine Statutory rape not being one of them) are still flagged. Which means if your friend is applying for work with vulnerable groups those groups will be informed he is a sexual offender just not what type. unless he release the record to the group.

The waiting period to apply for a pardon is 3 or 5 years (summary or indictable) after full completion of sentence.

Provincial/Municiple enforcement agencies aren't required to comply with the pardon so his record may still be available in areas that may have a local copy.

I'd check in your state/country to see if a similiar program exists.
posted by Mitheral at 12:02 PM on October 28, 2004

What everyone else said. Also, I would encourage your friend to contact a prisoners' rights group. In the US, the ones I would start with are CURE, Real Justice, the ACLU's Prison Rights Project and the American Friends Service Committee.

There is a foundation specifically targeted at helping convicted sex offenders reintegrate with communities. It's called the Whitestone Foundation, and it's in Washington state. However, it doesn't seem to have a web site, so I don't have any more information than that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:35 PM on October 28, 2004

Move to a different country far away.

I've known other people in similar situations (legal problems in another country -- not rape, but to do with marriage and children) and this will flat-out solve it if you are creative and smart about it.

If your friend is attached to his country, why? It's his country that is fucking up his life. He should give it the damn finger and find somewhere more accepting. If he moved to Canada, for example, what he did wasn't even a crime.

(Mitheral, he can't be in Canada because, like I mentioned, this isn't a crime in Canada by any measure of the words. We don't even have statutory rape laws. Just sex with a minor, IIRC. Not that there's any difference between the words when it comes down to the results.)

posted by shepd at 4:55 PM on October 28, 2004

I was pretty sure his friend was in the states, I was making a bit of a commentary on "if your going to ask for legal advise it might be a good idea to include what juristiction has authority".

And taking the opportunity to lecture a bit on pardons. It's something I think more people in Canada who have long done there time should be pursuing.
posted by Mitheral at 9:01 AM on October 29, 2004

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