Juveniles charged with sex crimes in Minnesota – a legal injustice.

In Minnesota, juveniles (persons under 18 years old) can be charged with the same sex crimes as adults.  Traditional juvenile courts date back to a social reform of the late 19th Century when other social justice movements reformed abuses in child labor, slavery, women’s rights, among others.  Prior, children were charged with crimes the same as adults, and suffered similar consequences if convicted.
A key reform of the “juvenile court” for children accused of crimes was a shift away from punishment for criminal acts, towards rehabilitation.  Today, juvenile courts still are directed toward a goal of rehabilitation of child who has violated a criminal law, more so than adults who are convicted of a crime.

The most essential feature of juvenile court to protect the opportunity for juveniles to rehabilitate and become full and productive members of society is anonymity.  Their juvenile court and other government records related to their delinquency case, were non-public, private data, protected by law and the courts.  That has changed in recent decades.  Now in Minnesota, for example, juvenile delinquency records are public for children 16 or older at the time of the alleged crime (rather than at age 18 or older as it had been for several decades).

This means that now Minnesota juvenile delinquency records are generally non-public for children under 16 years old.  This serves the public policy of giving juveniles a second chance to rehabilitate, and live a normal life afterwards without a public criminal record destroying their future.

340_Fotolia_3174684_XA great injustice.

Due to Minnesota’s ill-conceived sex offender registration statute, any and all juveniles adjudicated delinquent of a sex crime must register as a sex offender.  This means that their adjudication (roughly equivalent to a conviction for an adult) for a sex offense is public – very public, including the Minnesota Department of Corrections website.  This includes 11 year-olds on up through 15 year-olds.

This unfair law is even more shocking when we consider the fact that the vast majority of sex crimes in Minnesota are not the old common law rape crime, but rather involve consensual acts of a sexual nature where the crime is based upon an age difference.  This includes many Romeo and Juliet Syndrome cases.

The only way to prevent this life altering problem is to prevent your juvenile’s adjudication (conviction) of a sex crime in the first place.  Minnesota sex crimes lawyer Thomas Gallagher has been defending against claims like this since 1988, as well as serving clients as a Minnesota juvenile defense lawyer.  He has helped many juvenile clients charged with sex crimes successfully, and welcomes calls to discuss potential representation.