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Should Juveniles Be Listed on Oklahoma’s Sex-Offender Registry?

In a new report warning about the lasting effects current registry laws can have on some youths, human rights advocates are urging government authorities to put a stop to the practice of placing juveniles’ names on publicly accessible sex-offender registries. According to sex crime laws, sex offenses range from rape to consensual sex between youths …

In a new report warning about the lasting effects current registry laws can have on some youths, human rights advocates are urging government authorities to put a stop to the practice of placing juveniles’ names on publicly accessible sex-offender registries. According to sex crime laws, sex offenses range from rape to consensual sex between youths and even “sexting,” all of which can result in the individual being required to register as a convicted sex offender, possibly for life. If your child has been charged with a sex offense in Oklahoma, your first course of action should be to contact our criminal defense lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center. Our legal team has years of experience protecting the rights of individuals charged with sex offenses throughout Oklahoma, and will work diligently to help your child build a strong defense in his or her case.

Impact of Sex-Offender Registration on Juveniles

The purpose of the Human Rights Watch report is to shed light on the adverse effects inclusion on a public sex-offender registry can have on juveniles, and some law enforcement officials agree that there should be more discretion in juvenile offenders’ cases. “You’ve got to create a system that keeps the public safe but does not stigmatize a young person for the rest of their life,” said Mai Fernandez, a former prosecutor and executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime. In two cases cited in the Human Rights Watch report, juveniles were convicted of sex offenses at 12 and committed suicide at 17, due to what their parents said was despair related to the registries.

Sex Offender Registry Restrictions

Current registry laws include harsh restrictions that prohibit registered sex offenders from living or working within a certain distance of parks, playgrounds, schools and other places where children gather. “They often struggle to continue their education,” says the Human Rights Watch report. “Many have a hard time finding – and keeping – a job, or a home.” In the words of a former sex offender interviewed by the human rights advocates, who was placed on the registry at age 14, “you are never done serving your time. There is never a chance for a fresh start. You are finished. I wish I was executed, because my life is basically over.”

Putting Juveniles on Registries “Can Cause More Harm Than Good”

According to Human Rights Watch, the report, set to be released on May 1, is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the adverse effect that sex-offender registry laws can have on juvenile sex offenders. “Of course anyone responsible for a sexual assault should be held accountable,” said Nicole Pittman, a lawyer and the report’s author. “But punishment should fit both the offense and the offender, and placing children who commit sex offenses on a public registry – often for life – can cause more harm than good.” The report argues that the laws, which require officials to publicly display offenders’ pictures and personal information on online registries, can make them targets for harassment and possibly even violence.

Consult Our Law Firm for Legal Help

Under federal law, U.S. states are required to include certain juvenile offenders as young as 14 on their sex-offender registries. Some states have implemented provisions even tougher than federal law though, subjecting children even younger than 14 to the possibility of 25-year or lifetime registration on public registries. The Human Rights Watch report, however, recommends that all juvenile offenders be exempted from public registration laws, citing research indicating that they are less likely to reoffend than adult sex offenders. If your child is facing sex crime charges in Oklahoma, contact our criminal defense attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center today. As the Human Rights Watch report shows, being included on a public sex-offender registry can have a significant impact on the life of a juvenile offender. With the help of our lawyers, you may be able to have your child’s charges reduced to a lesser offense, or possibly even dismissed altogether.

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