Being arrested for criminal sexual behavior is bad enough, considering the social stigma associated with sex crimes. However, being convicted of a sex offense is something everyone should avoid if at all possible. Once branded as a sex offender, a person will carry with him a great burden, including life-long registration as a sex offender, restricted working and living arrangements, notification of the local community and neighborhood of your conviction, loss of certain professional licenses, even revocation of your constitutional right to vote and to bear arms (as a person convicted of a felony).
As a Birmingham criminal defense attorney, I know the personal and professional consequences that a sex crime conviction can bring down upon an individual. Jobs have been lost, careers ended and marriages broken up all over a single sex crime conviction. It is because of these life-changing consequences that anyone accused of criminal sexual behavior should retain professional legal counsel.
Recently, a Mobile police officer was forced to resign from the force after admitting that he had sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl. While the relationship was not illegal in the state of Alabama, police department officials apparently believed it was not befitting a policeman. Earlier this year, a former police officer was convicted of raping his stepdaughter, however that girl was under 12 at the time.
According to news reports, 44-year-old Marshall Freeman will not be prosecuted over his admission of having sex with the teenager since the girl said that it she consented to the relationship. According to the Mobile County district attorney, Freeman will not be facing any criminal charges, although many inside and outside the police department feel the relationship was “just plain wrong.”
Alabama is one of 32 states that have laws on the books stating that 16 is the age of sexual consent. Some other states have laws that state if an authority figure, such as a police officer, is involved that age of sexual consent rises to 18 years.
Based on some observers, relationships between individuals are not always equal. Some organizations, such as Mobile County's Child Advocacy Center, would like to see the Alabama legal system hold people in power to a higher standard. Whether the state legislature will move to make it a criminal offense for a person of authority to have sex with anyone under 18 remains to be seen.
Sexual Consent Controversy, WKRG.com, March 16, 2010