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Is this what legislators in Mississippi really intended?

By Sandy . . . I read about a case today that disturbs me; it raises some concerns and some questions that I am unable to find answers to.

A young man in Mississippi was arrested January 7 for “. . . possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of alcohol by a minor . . .”

He is a felon because he has a sexual crime conviction from March 27, 2023. He is a minor because he was born in the summer of 2005, making him 18; possession and conumption of alcoholic beverages in the United States is not legal, except for religious or prescribed medicinal purposes, until the age of 21.

While his sexual crime conviction was in early 2023, when he was still 17, it was for a crime of statutory rape committed in 2018 when he was 13, which raises the first question: Why was there a five-year gap between the commission of the offense and the sentencing? I can find very little information about this case, most likely due to his and the victim’s ages.

Possibly she did not come forward with information that led to his being charged for several years. If this was statutory—consensual but illegal due to a statute making it illegal, in this case their ages–why did she make a complaint? Was she pressured by someone to go to the police? Was he allowed to plea to this charge when her behavior was not, after all, reciprocal? These are questions that will probably never be answered.

Possibly there was legal wrangling back and forth for several years before he pled guilty to the charge. Five years between a crime being committed and a conviction being recorded is actually not very rare and therefore not a very serious concern after all.

My next question is more serious—much more serious. This young man is identified in local media as the youngest person on their local sex offender registry. Why? And by why, I mean why is he required to register?

In the definitions for the 97-3-65 sexual crime of statutory rape is this: “. . . conviction or adjudication under Section 97-3-65(1)(a) when the offender was eighteen (18) years of age or younger at the time of the alleged offense, shall not be a registrable sex offense . . .” The difference between 97-3-65 (1)(a) and (1)(b)—which is the sub-section of this young man’s conviction–is the age of the victim. (1)(a) encompasses victims aged 14 and 15 while (1)(b) delineates victims aged 13 and younger. (16 is the legal age of consent in Mississippi.) This boy’s victim was in his age group; he was thirteen—thirteen. Why is (1)(b), which allows charging “a person of any age,” a registerable offense when (1)(a) is not? The age differential between the perpetrator and the victim allowed in (1)(a) is actually greater, 36 months, than that of the 24 months allowed in (1)(b).

Is this what the crafters of the statutes governing sexual crime in Mississippi intended, that a person of 17 or 18 could be convicted of statutory rape with a person aged 14 or 15 and not be required to register, but a person of 11 or 12 or 13 could be convicted of the same exact offense committed with a person aged 10 or 11 or 12 and be required to be on the Mississippi sex offender registry for, as the judge in this case is reported as saying,  “the rest of his natural-born life”?

This was a child who quite possibly engaged in sex-play with an age-appropriate peer, sex-play that may well have gone beyond being age-appropriate behavior. It may not even have been sex-play at all but aggressive behavior. Punish him. Counsel him. Help him. But don’t put him on a registry that will destroy “for the rest of his natural-born life” his ability to make that life a normal one.

 

 

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

5 Thoughts to “Is this what legislators in Mississippi really intended?”

  1. AvatarTim in WI

    Sandy,
    Q1: Why is there a five year gap…
    A: The breakdown of speedy trial doctrine which is part of fair trial doctrine. Generally speaking the popularity of upsetting Statutes of limitations in sex cases has its own role in both placating and fomenting victim’s stance. ( CA v Steiner) (Smith V Doe)
    Q2: Why did she file a complaint?
    A: The child is technically protected by law in ways not available to the adult. Special protections includes the disability for the child to voluntarily disengage from prosecutorial function. Essentially the state takes over the case for the child’s cause, whereby the state itself claims to be the victim of the defendant. State claim acts against the peace and dignity of the state. Violations of child labor laws are treated much the same by states , who supplant the victim child’s role.
    State however, may not relieve the child of testimony because of due processes protections held by the indicted.
    Certainly these facts result in conflicts of interest.

  2. AvatarTim in WI

    Sandy,
    Speaking of Southern States; how is it Alabama’s political class needs a Federal Judge to explain to them the unconstitutional nature of a law which bans a parent from residing with their children if they’ve been convicted of a sex offense. I mean how ungrounded is that! I thought it was about protecting and supporting the nuclear family? If it’s incestual, perhaps maybe a law, but outside preventing a direct threat of further assault no real need exists.

    1. AvatarTS

      Because a state judge would’ve most likely not seen it the way the Fed judge did and most likely the case would be appealed to the AL appeals court. The beauty of the Fed court seeing this is now it is appealed to the 11th CCOA and will apply to the entire 11th area which is very southern and rich with overbroad laws like this.

      Congrats Mr. Dubbeling (who works with NARSOL)!

  3. AvatarTS

    This is sad we are witnessing our legal system in this manner. Those in Jackson, MS should be ashamed of themselves for perverting the legal system this way. Great write-up Sandy on these legal misdeeds.

  4. AvatarScrewed over in Mississippi

    For one mississippi only cares about convictions. Right wrong or whatever they don’t give a rat’s a**. I’ve been through the bull I know. Hell the lawyers that defend you here don’t care right or wrong it’s money. Mine.lied repeatedly to me when I complained to the bar they blamed me. Funny haha legal system is this country is a joke.

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