The consequences of a sex crime conviction are a common theme of this blog, primarily because they are severe and long-lasting. The penalties that come with sex crimes extend well beyond a prison sentence in most cases, affecting offenders' ability to work, find housing and attend school. And unlike with many other crimes, the surrounding community often has a say in an offender's liberties.
The case of a man from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, demonstrates the restrictions that so many registered sex offenders face. Convicted of child enticement after being caught trying to solicit a minor online, the man was recently released from prison after serving a seven-month sentence. Although he lived in the same community for about eight years prior to his conviction, his home is slightly more than 500 feet from a city park. A city ordinance prevents sex offenders from establishing a permanent or temporary residence within 1,200 feet of a school, day care center, park, place of worship or any other location where children are known to congregate.
The city's Common Council recently upheld the decision preventing the man from moving back into his home, despite a family member's letter of support for the man and the fact that he never came into inappropriate contact with a child. He was arrested in an undercover operation in which he thought he was communicating online with a minor, but was actually chatting with a police officer.
About 25 of the residents in the man's former community attended the Common Council meeting to voice their opposition to his move back home. One neighbor acknowledged that "everyone deserves a place to live," but said the man had proved himself to be a threat to children in the area.
Speaking on his own behalf at the meeting, the man explained that he had never hurt anyone and had no intentions to do so. He called his offense "a victimless crime" and said he's already served his punishment.
Most of his neighbors didn't agree, however, and their response is fairly typical of communities who discover a sex offender in their midst. Regardless of your remorse, past actions and current behavior, it can be nearly impossible to regain a community's trust once you're convicted of a sex offense, making an effective criminal defense that avoids these consequences absolutely essential.
Source: Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, "Sex offender must move," Megan Sheridan, June 19, 2012