Being charged with a federal crime can be a devastating and ruinous experience, especially for a young person. At a young age, people simply make mistakes and may not have the maturity to understand the consequences of their actions. This is why it may be inappropriate for a young person to face overly harsh sentences if they are convicted of breaking a law.
For example, a 20-year-old man in South Carolina was recently convicted of possessing child pornography when a video was discovered on his cell phone. The video was never sold, distributed or shared with anyone. The video showed the man and his girlfriend engaged in consensual sexual activity, and the girlfriend was aware that her boyfriend was recording them. So how did the man end up being sentenced to 18 months in a federal prison?
According to sources, the entire episode started when the 20-year-old boyfriend wanted to spend a school day with his 16-year-old girlfriend. She didn't want to skip out on school, so the boyfriend called a bomb threat into the school so she would not have to go in. This was obviously a bad decision, but what happened next was quite unexpected.
Authorities traced the bomb threat phone call back to the boyfriend's phone. After he confessed, the FBI discovered that he also had videos on the phone of himself and his 16-year-old girlfriend. Under South Carolina law, the girl is old enough to have consensual sex, but sexual activity cannot be lawfully recorded until a person is 18.
Not only was the young man, who had no previous criminal record, sentenced to federal prison for the bomb threat and videos, but he must also now register as a sex offender in South Carolina. Other people listed as a sex offender include violent criminals, pedophiles and convicted rapists. The fact that this man will now be listed among them can be seriously devastating to his future, career opportunities and family, even though his actions were consensual and never distributed.
All levels of sexual misconduct are prosecuted aggressively and the consequences of a conviction can be devastating. People who are under investigation for criminal sexual conduct or have been charged may want to work with a criminal defense attorney so that charges can be challenged and sentences can be minimized.
Source: The State, "Teen sex video on cell phone nets Columbia man prison," John Monk, Feb. 8, 2013
- Our South Carolina law firm works with people facing charges similar to those discussed in this post. For more information on defending against these allegations, please visit our page on criminal sexual conduct.