Few criminal convictions carry the same social stigma of sex offenses. Even some homicide sentences could result in less severe consequences than those resulting from sex crimes. Before providing any information to or signing any deals with police or prosecutors, consider your position.
One of the main reasons that sex charges are so dire is the sex offender registry. This is a database in which the court could enter your information should it convict you of a qualifying offense.
Many convictions qualify for a place on the registry. However, the duration varies considerably, from 15 years to life.
Virtually any case could result in your long-term registration. Familial status, social position, professional pursuits: None of these would be likely to protect you. Some example charges include types of:
- Prostitution and solicitation
- Child pornography
- Child abuse
The age factor
The age of the parties would also have a bearing on the difficulty of your case. Judges are not often willing to forgo the sex abuse registry for the convictions of fully grown adults.
That is not to say that younger adults are immune to this devastating stigma. For example, young adults who interact with older children — such as college students who date high-schoolers — could face charges related to child pornography for their personal phone conversations. These types of convictions usually result in strict penalties, especially for people at the beginning of their lives.
Beyond the utter destruction of any privacy — these records are public, searchable and contain extensive personal information — there could be additional consequences to your appearance on the sex offender registry.
For example, private archiving technology could keep proof of your registration for years after your sentence expired. You might also face restrictions on where you live, where you work, whether you can adopt and which professions you may pursue. Please remember that these consequences of registration are above and beyond any fines or jail sentence you might incur.