Sex Offenses and Violent Sexual Predator Law

Sex offenses – rapes, sexual assaults, sexual battery, indecent liberties with a child, peeping – are some of the most difficult offenses for a criminal lawyer to handle. That’s because, in addition to the significant emotional issues at stake, our society has determined that punishing such defendants and protecting the rest of society from them are of paramount concern.

Certain crimes – the violent assault of another human being – have always been prohibited. But changing technology has made other crimes far more prevalent today than they were before. For instance, the internet and file sharing mean that the sharing of pornography, which was once done surreptitiously and in small quantities, is today easy to do in vast quantities and easily.

In addition, changes in the laws have affected the way that defendants face prosecution, and the convicted are treated. In the past 20 years, sex offender registry laws have swept the states. In addition, changes in the way we prosecute such people. For instance, even though character evidence is usually not admissible against a defendant at trial, changes to the Federal Rules of Evidence permit the introduction of character evidence in cases involving sex offenses.

One of the most significant changes in the past decade has been the introduction of Violent Sexual Predator laws. The trend began in Washington state, and now encompasses more than half of the states in the country, including the federal government. VSP laws permit the continued detention of people who have been determined to be violent sexual predators long after their prison sentence is over on the view that such people are likely to re-offend.

The Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Comstock, declared that Congress did have the power to create such laws that permit the indefinite detention of such people.

While there may be an important societal interest in stopping predation, the problem is always that in the end such laws are ever-expanded, so that not simply sexual offenders, but thieves, crooks, embezzlers, drug dealers and other people may be later deemed to be subject to a mental illness that requires their indefinite detention.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.