As a Birmingham, AL, criminal defense lawyer serving clients accused of sexually-based offenses, I have first-hand experience with institutional and social bias against individuals charged with sex crimes in Alabama. Regardless of the severity of the charge, no one should take such an accusation lightly. Penalties for criminal sexual behavior can be harsh, costly and long-lasting. The social and employment consequences of a seemingly minor event, should one be convicted of a sex crime, can be life altering to say the least.
A recent article makes the point loud and clear. Never take chances with the law when you have been accused of criminal sexual behavior, and always consult a qualified Alabama criminal attorney in preparation to defend yourself against what is sure to be a full-blown criminal trial. The reason is simple: Society has zero tolerance for alleged criminal sexual activity and treats convicted offenders — or predators — as veritable outcasts in their own home towns and local communities.
Once convicted, a sex offender is required by law to file their name and address within 10 days at the local law enforcement office. If the person moves at a later date, he or she will be required to register in the state and county within seven days of establishing new residence. If this does not happen, that person would be in violation of the Community Notification Act.
People convicted sexually-based crimes must also follow other rules, such as not living in a home with children, although an offender can live with a minor child as long as the offender is a parent, step-parent or grandparent and as long as the offender's victim was not a child under his or her care or supervision at the time of the offense.
The restrictions continue. Offenders whose victims were children under the age of 12 cannot live with a minor, nor loiter in areas where children congregate, such as schools and playgrounds. Current law prohibits convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of high schools or elementary schools. And if that wasn't limiting enough, another law recently passed by the Alabama Legislature now prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a college or university.
According to the news report, there are more than 7,500 registered sex offenders publicly viewable in the official state registry. This is something that goes on for the rest of those individuals' lives. Since 1996, Alabama state law has required notification of people in any neighborhood where a convicted sex offender lives – and there is nothing legally these convicted offenders can do but bear up under the stigma that society has placed upon them. Neighbors living within a 1,000-foot radius of a registered sex offender are notified by mail or by flyers that a sex offender has moved into their area.
As a criminal defense lawyer in Birmingham, my goal is to defend those accused of crimes and prove their innocence. My aim here is to remind those accused of a sex-based crime that this is no laughing matter. Your life will be changed if you are convicted. Because of this, you must not gamble with your future. Never plead guilt and always seek professional legal advice from an attorney who knows the law and can aggressively defend you against the huge resources of the state.
Is a sex offender too close?, SelmaTimesJournal.com, July 11, 2009