Consequences of Sex Crime Accusations and Convictions
Posted on Apr 22, 2015 10:00am UTC
Being arrested for a sex crime has far-reaching consequences. The stigma associated with sex crimes makes it likely a defendant will have difficulties finding employment or suitable housing. Some will also have problems maintaining relationships with people they previously were close to. These issues are magnified whenever the accused is actually innocent, as he or she may suffer emotional distress that far surpasses that of a guilty person.
Innocence by the Numbers
Just how many people are falsely accused of sex crimes cannot actually be determined. As Bloomberg View reports, the number could be as high as the 40 percent figured claimed by men’s advocacy groups, or as low as the eight percent number estimated by the FBI. Either way, a good number of people are falsely accused of sex crimes every year, yet still suffer the same or worse consequences as an actual offender.
Being falsely accused of any crime can be devastating, especially if that crime is a sex offense. Innocent defendants may suffer a span of emotions that range from anger to embarrassment. They may feel hurt, or experience feelings of abandonment because someone they love and care about has made false allegations in an effort to harm them.
Reuters reports that men who are convicted of sexual crimes have a “much higher than average rate of serious mental illness” than the general population. This means that those who are eventually convicted are likely to continue suffering the emotional effects for some time.
Since people tend to be distrusting of sex offenders, those who are wrongly accused may suffer socially as well. In the minds of many people, an arrest equals guilt. As such, friends and family members may not wait until a verdict is rendered before cutting ties with an individual. Even if charges are dropped or a defendant is found “not guilty”, many will continue to believe he or she was actually guilty and simply “got over” on the system.
It’s not unusual for innocent people to experience:
- A loss of friendships
- Difficulty forming or maintaining romantic relationships
- Severed ties with family members
- Being the victim of gossip or rumors
- Loss of child custody
- Isolation from neighbors and coworkers
Being accused of a sex crime can result in financial devastation in a number of ways due to:
- Potential loss of employment
- Loss of a business due to a shattered reputation
- Difficulty finding or keeping a job
- Expenses associated with legal fees, court costs, counseling, etc.
- Additional requirement to register as a sex offender, which may come with an associated fee
Loss of Employment Opportunities
Faith Advocates for Jobs reports that the unemployment rate for former offenders is around 50% in the nine-month period following their release. Many believe the rate for sex offenders is actually much higher, since these individuals are limited to the type of industries they may work in. Employers are also very leery about hiring sex offenders because they feel doing so might be harmful to their business. Certain occupational licenses cannot be granted to sex offenders, further limiting their employment opportunities.
Increased Risk of Homelessness
Sex offenders are also at an increased risk of homelessness. The loss of family relationships coupled with financial difficulties and high unemployment make it more likely that a registered sex offender will wind up on the streets. Add in the fact that some areas greatly restrict where sex offenders may live, and it is easy to see how someone who was falsely accused could wind up homeless, regardless of his or her innocence.
Recognizing that sex offender registries may actually do more harm than good in some cases, the Human Rights Watch advocates for the reform of state and federal programs. The goal of this reform is to ensure children are still protected, while greatly reducing the restrictions on where an offender may live and work to ensure they can continue to be productive members of society.
Preserve your Innocence
It’s clear that more needs to be done to prevent people from becoming wrongly accused and/or convicted of sex crimes. Until then, the best thing you can do if you are falsely accused is to seek legal counsel. Don’t wait until charges are brought-seek advice from an attorney as soon as you are aware that an investigation has been initiated.
Contact experienced sex crimes attorney Billy Skinner today to protect your rights!
Photo by Kate Ter Haar | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0