A sex crime conviction is unlike most other crimes. All criminal records are public, but individuals who are convicted of sex crimes also have to register as a sex offender. The sex offender registry is a separate, public list that not only comes with its own particular stigma, but also additional restrictions regarding things like where you can live and what jobs you can have in the future. Not surprisingly, most people would like to avoid them if they could.
According to a recent Kare11 Investigation, some sex offenders have been able to avoid some of the penalties associated with the registry by making a specific plea deal that keeps their past sex crimes a secret.
Stay of Adjudication Allows Sex Offenders to Hide Their Crimes
Kare11 began an investigation of these plea deals when Eugene Robert Finch was convicted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl. While this case was open, the girl’s family discovered that she was not Finch’s first victim.
In 2014, Finch was charged with Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He was facing three years in prison and a spot on Minnesota’s sex offender registry. Instead, he received a plea deal called a “Stay of Adjudication.”
In exchange for Finch’s guilty plea, he was sentenced to probation and a sex offender treatment program. When the program and the terms of his probation were completed, his charges were dropped.
When the family of his latest victim discovered his criminal past, they were shocked. The family had been renting a house from Finch. If he had been on the sex offender registry, all it would have taken was one quick Google search to expose his criminal past and the crimes against their daughter might never have happened.
Kare11 investigated further after learning about Finch’s plea deal and discovered that others like it had been used to keep hundreds of offenders who were charged for crimes against children off of the state registry. Some individuals were even able to negotiate this plea deal after having sexual intercourse with children under the age of 13.
In response to the investigation, lawmakers have called for reforms. Many told Kare11 that the Stay of Adjudication plea deal was not intended for offenses like Finch’s. It was originally intended for statutory “Romeo and Juliet” cases in which the victim and offender were in a relationship and still close in age. The governor has called for reforms that would keep the public in the know if they are working with, or live near, a sex offender.
What This Means If You Have Been Charged with a Sex Crime
As horrifying as Finch’s case is, it is unfortunate that the transgressions of one individual may end up taking one of the few ways that those facing a sex crime conviction have to prevent their lives from being destroyed and their chances at becoming rehabilitated and returning to a productive place in society dashed. Perhaps that sounds like an exaggeration, but the stigma associated with being on the registry really can make life that difficult.
Now, it is more important than ever for defendants to work with a knowledgeable Minnesota sex crimes attorney to use everything at their disposal to fight their charges and protect their good name. With a skilled lawyer by your side, you have the best chance at getting your charges reduced or dropped, or – if you end up going to trial – at proving your innocence in court.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).