In many states, committing a sex offense doesn't just get you a mandatory minimum sentence, it also gets you a mandatory minimum period of registering as a sex offender (which has all kinds of onerous burdens, such as restrictions on where you can live, work, etc.). New Jersey's Megan's Law requires registering as a sex offender for life if certain kinds of criminal sexual conduct is involved.
This piece from New Jersey's Star-Ledger gives an example of some of the conduct that apparently can trigger this life-long and life-altering mandatory sex offender registration: playing a prank.
Call it bullying or call it horseplay. Either way, a state appellate court panel says roughhousing with a sexual connotation by a pair of 14-year-old Somerset County boys was a crime that requires them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
In a decision handed down Monday, the three-judge panel acknowledged the severity of its decision, but said it was bound to uphold the law.
"We are keenly aware that our decision may have profound lifelong ramifications for these two boys as well as others similarly situated," Judge Jose Fuentes wrote.
One of the boys, whose case went to trial, said he had sat on the faces of a pair of 12-year-old schoolmates with his bare buttocks in November 2008 "cause I thought it was funny and I was trying to get my friends to laugh," he told a family court judge.
But an act is considered criminal sexual contact if it is done for sexual gratification or to degrade or humiliate the victim, and punishable by lifetime registration — even for juveniles — under Megan’s Law, which requires a person convicted of a sex crime against a child to notify police of changes of address or employment.The mandatory, lifelong sex offender registration isn't up to the judges -- it can only be changed by the New Jersey legislature.
The article has an interesting poll sidebar, asking readers to vote on whether this punishment (yes, that's their word choice) of lifelong registration fits this crime.
As of 5 p.m. EST on July 20, a whopping 76% said this punishment didn't fit.
What do you think?