One common consequence of being convicted of a sex crime is a prison sentence. While that may come as no surprise, many people are shocked to learn upon conviction that there are state and federal mandatory minimum sentences that aren't appropriate for their particular crime.
A Milwaukee woman was convicted in January of sexually assaulting two boys, now ages 6 and 7, while she baby-sat them on a number of occasions for their mother, who continues to describe the woman as a close and trusted friend. Although she didn't testify, the woman's attorney said she denies molesting the boys.
The judge who presided over the trial told the woman that jury's verdict warrants a severe punishment. But even he said the Wisconsin Legislature's imposition of a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years was too harsh, and that the law had robbed courts of discretion to decide an appropriate punishment, both in her case and others. He called the mandatory minimums a draconian approach that has been shown not to deter the illegal behavior.
Although the woman's case involved two victims and allegations of multiple assaults, she had no prior record of improper sexual conduct, has a strong family and work record and is considered at low risk of reoffending. In her most recent court appearance on Monday, she repeated that she was not guilty and has hired a new lawyer to possibly appeal her conviction. The judge said he hoped the Legislature would "see the light" on mandatory minimums and create opportunities for early release.
If you're found guilty of a sex crime, these mandatory minimum sentencing laws could apply to you, which is why it's crucial to build as solid a defense as possible. An attorney who focuses on sex offenses may be able to see that your charges are dropped or reduced to help you avoid a punishment that doesn't fit the crime.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Woman gets 25 years for sex assault," Bruce Vielmetti, Feb. 28, 2012