Juveniles charged with sex crimes in Minnesota – a legal injustice.
The most essential feature of juvenile court required to protect the opportunity to rehabilitate and become full, productive members of society is anonymity. Juvenile court and other government records related to delinquency cases were non-public, private data, protected by law and the courts. That has changed in recent decades. Exceptions to the protection of juveniles’ records have developed. Now in Minnesota, for example, juvenile delinquency records are public for felonies 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.
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 more public. 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.