Surveillance of sex offenders during Halloween

As Jonathan Moynihan reports for the Severn Patch, not everyone can participate on Halloween. Those convicted of sex crimes are not allowed to participate, given that the point of Halloween is to disguise yourself in a costume and roam the streets going house to house with the other participants, most of which are children.

But, as Moynihan writes, the sex offender registry is not meant to “harass or commit a crime against those listed on the site, but for informational purposes only.” Moynihan does not include information on how the police conduct surveillance on Halloween, but one thing is clear: A sex offense conviction will affect you for the rest of your life in ways you never thought possible — like being able to participate in holidays.

Other than police surveillance of registered sex offenders, it is suggested that children stay on the sidewalks, carry flashlights, and never enter a stranger’s home while trick-or-treating.

Halloween may be over, but this story is a reminder that to be a registered sex offender is to live a life with unusual restrictions.

Source: Severn Patch, “County Police to Ensure Sex Offenders Don’t Participate in Halloween Activities,” by Jonathan Moynihan, 10/31/11

Maryland rock climbing coach pleads guilty to sex offense

A 31-year-old Maryland rock climbing coach has recently plead guilty to a sex offense perpetrated against a 14-year-old climbing student – and the irony in this case is that the 31-year-old had trained other coaches on proper coach-student etiquette, as David Greisman reports for the Baltimore Sun.

The rock climbing coach in this case has plead guilty, but in many cases that involve allegations of sex crimes, the accused is considered guilty long before he or she has ever had a trial. Now that the coach has plead guilty, however, he will be required to register as a sex offender – after spending considerable time behind bars.

As Greisman reports, prosecutors in the man’s case recommended to the judge that eight years of the 15-year prison sentence be served with five years of probation after time served.

Another consequence of the man’s guilty plea is that he have no contact with minors, a consequence that will obviously impact his ability to coach rock climbing.

If you are facing criminal sexual charges, contact our Maryland criminal lawyers before you talk to the police.

 

Source: Explore Howard, “Coach in Earth Treks sex abuse case pleads guilty,” by David Greisman, 11/30/11

Maryland high school English teacher charged with sex offenses

A 29-year-old high school teacher, who taught English at Glen Burnie High, was charged last Thursday with multiple sex offenses involving three 15-year-old and 16-year-old female students. As Maria Glod reports for the Washington Post, the sex offense charges include sexual abuse of a minor and sexual solicitation of a minor.

The 29-year-old teacher had “sexual relations” with the girls both while on the premises of Glen Burnie High and elsewhere, during school hours and non-school hours, during a period of time ranging from November 2009 to October 2011.

As Glod reports, the man has been removed from his teaching position at the school.

In Maryland, third and fourth-degree sex crimes – like those that the teacher has been charged with – are slightly less serious than first-degree sex crimes (at least in terms of the consequences), but will nonetheless result in mandatory sex offender registration.

Sex offender registration can last from anywhere from 10 years to lifetime registration, depending on the circumstances.

In other words, any sex crime conviction (or arrest, for that matter) is a life-changing experience.

 

Source: Washington Post, “Md. teacher charged with having sexual relations with students,” by Maria Glod, 12/8/11

Man may not have to face sex offender registry

As Barbara Leonard reports for the Courthouse News Service, some of those people who have been charged with and convicted of sex crimes – and must now put their names on the sex offender registry – have in limited cases the possibility of not having to register.

At least that’s the case for Billy Joe Reynolds, who had been convicted of a sex crime and served his time. After getting out of prison, Reynolds registered as a sex offender in his home state, but then moved to another state a number of years later.

He did not register when he began living in the new state.

Reynolds was then charged with (and pleaded guilty, according to Leonard’s report) to failing to register and keep the registry updated after his move.

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has heard Reynold’s case, ruling that an ambiguity in the law – whether the 2006 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act applied to someone who was convicted before 2006 but moved to a state in 2007, a state that did not have clear interim rules set up as to whether he would have to register – compelled them to reverse his conviction.

Scalia dissented, writing that the case was a mere matter of “time-honored” prosecutorial discretion on whether or not Reynolds should have been charged in the first place.

If you are charged with a sex crime, don’t risk your future, contact the Maryland sex crimes attorneys at the Law Office of James E. Crawford Jr. to protect your legal rights.

Sex abuse in the 1970s, claims brought in the 2010s

“They have struggled in ways you can’t imagine,” says an attorney representing an unspecified number of brothers, who are all now adults, and are said to have been victimized – suffered sexual abuse and child molestation – at the hands of a Catholic priest when they were boys.

“These are people whose lives suffered,” says the attorney.

But, at the same time, the judge is not so sure that these brothers can bring their claims so late in the game – claims against third parties – those who knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it.

At issue is the huge lapse of time: the abuse is alleged to have occurred in the 1970s, as Maura Dolan reports for the Los Angeles Times, and yet the brothers are only now bringing their claims to court.

There is a three-year statute of limitations (in this California case) once an alleged victim realizes that his or her mental health issues were caused by sexual abuse.

The case seems to be more about legal deadlines than it is about suing third parties in sex crimes cases. If the case survives legal review and is allowed to proceed, only then will the court get into the issue of whether third parties should take some sort of blame for failing to stop abuse.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Court studies limits to suing third parties in child molestations,” by Maura Dolan, 1/5/12

Military Prison and Dismissal for Man Convicted of Rape

20-year-old Midshipman 3rd Class Patrick Edmond, a student at the U.S. Naval Academy, was convicted of rape by a seven-member military panel and sentenced to six months in military prison. Edmond was also dismissed from the Navy.

As Childs Walker reports for the Baltimore Sun, this is the first court-martial involving a rape conviction at the U.S. Naval Academy since 2008. There were a number of “high-profile” sex assaults at the Academy throughout the 2000s.

William Marks, a spokesman for the Academy, said, “The military holds its service members to the highest standards of personal accountability. The military process is fair, impartial and deliberate – we support the findings of the jury,” as Walker reports.

Marks goes on to say: “The Navy has zero tolerance for sexual assault.”

Often, evidence of sex assault or rape is “insufficient” to support courts-martial.

A report goes out every year in December that details the number of sexual assaults at the U.S. Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point – according to the 2008 and 2009 reports, 56 percent of female cadets and midshipmen reported “some form of sexual harassment” in the year prior to the reports.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Former midshipman sentenced to six months in military prison for rape of classmate,” by Childs Walker, 09/30/11

Sex crime: FBI changes its 1927 definition of rape

“This long-awaited change to the definition of rape is a victory for women and men across the country whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years,” said Vice President Joe Biden, as Lindsay Goldwert reports for the NY Daily News.

Biden is referring to what the FBI has done: changed the definition of rape to one that allows for men to be treated as victims in sex crimes cases.

Here’s the new definition: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

The old definition, as Goldwert reports, includes the words “carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” Without that language, the definition of rape seems to get a bit clearer, and is non-gender specific.

Notably, the FBI’s new definition also includes the word “consent,” which has always been major issue in allegations of sex crimes.

Source: NY Daily News, “FBI scraps long-standing definition of rape to include men as victims,” by Lindsay Goldwert, 1/6/12

Man gets 11 years in prison for sex trafficking in Maryland

As Fairfax News reports, a 31-year-old Maryland resident was recently sentenced to 11 years behind bars on a sex offenses conviction. The man was found guilty for sex trafficking involving a 16-year-old girl that he originally met on the Internet.

According to a U.S. Attorney, the man “trolled social networking sites and then lured and groomed a juvenile girl into his prostitution business. Sex trafficking – especially of minors – is a heinous crime and has long-term psychological consequences for the victims.”

The man is said to have operated his prostitution business in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. As for the 16-year-old girl, the man brought her to clients in Maryland and had her perform sexual acts in exchange for cash – keeping a percentage for his own.

The FBI participated in the man’s arrest. One agent said, “Recruiting, exploiting and transporting juveniles for the purpose of underage prostitution is among the lowest forms of human conduct. It’s a sad reality that people prey on our children…”

If you have been charged with a sex crime, contact a Baltimore, Maryland criminal lawyer before you talk to police or anyone else.

Sex crime: Pentagon report implicates U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis

As Gopal Ratnam reports for Bloomberg Businessweek, sex assault cases in 2010-2011 doubled to 22 (as compared to 11 cases in 2009-2010) at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

“One assault is one too many,” says Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Sex crime allegations also went up at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado (though the number of sex assault incidents held steady at 10 at the U.S. Military Academy in New York).

This is an overall 58 percent increase, says the U.S. Defense Department.

In Maryland, as elsewhere, an allegation of sex crime against you can result in immediate and severe consequences, from a charge of rape to lifetime sex offender registration upon conviction, limiting job opportunities and where you can live and work.

As Ratnam reports, the Pentagon says that it could not “conclusively identify” why sex assault incidents were increasing year-over-year at these military academies; some speculate that it’s a matter of reporting.

CNBC’s list of best prisons

Often, we defend people accused of sex crimes, and many of those charges can result in serious consequences upon conviction. We do the best job that we can to defend people charged with these crimes.

As Michelle Fox reports for CNBC, there are “best places to go to prison,” and part of a criminal defense lawyer’s job is to do everything is his or her power to get the best possible outcome for the client – sometimes this means negotiating for the best possible place to go to prison.

Fox’s piece centers on white-collar crimes and minimum-security prisons. As Fox writes, people like Bernie Madoff and Martha Stewart go to these types of prisons – which is not to say that those who are accused of sex crimes cannot optimize their situation – but minimum-security prisons are characterized by a lack of high walls keeping people inside and not as much violence.

Here are some of the “best places to go to prison”:

•· Federal Prison Camp Montgomery in Alabama

•· FPC Pensacola in Florida

•· FPC Yankton in South Dakota

•· FCI Morgantown in West Virginia

•· FPC Alderson in West Virginia

•· FCI Otisville in New York

•· FCI Sheridan in Oregon

•· USP Lewisburg in Pennsylvania

•· FCI Sandstone in Minnesota

•· FCI Butner in North Carolina

•· Taft Correctional Institution in California

•· FCI Dublin in California

You may have noticed that Maryland did not make the list. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things a criminal defense lawyer can do for you if you’ve been charged with a crime in Maryland. The number one rule of practice is good negotiation.