Being convicted of any crime is, in its own right, something that is bound to follow you long after you’ve done your time. That being said, research suggests there are certain convictions that seem to be viewed far more negatively in society…and for much longer.
Sex crimes are among the worst. This is because while, yes, there are legal penalties attached to sex crime convictions, there are also significant social penalties.
The unique and unparalleled stigma surrounding sex crime convictions can be likened to suffering an entirely new set of repercussions after an offender’s criminal sentence is already complete.
First, let’s cover what the law says about sex crimes in Connecticut. Then, let’s take a look at what happens beyond criminal conviction and sentencing.
Connecticut Sex Crime Laws and Penalties
There are a wide variety of crimes that fall under the sex crime label. In general, sex crimes are any crime that involves unwanted sexual contact. Connecticut’s sex crime laws cover a range of illegal activities from verbal harassment to rape to trafficking.
Sexual Harassment and Stalking
Verbal sexual harassment becomes a crime when intent to make the victim annoyed, alarmed, or otherwise feel harassed exists. This behavior can easily be elevated to charges of stalking.
Traveling places or otherwise tracking a victim, or even providing unwanted gifts, can be considered stalking. Any situation where a reasonable person might fear for their safety or suffer emotional distress may be considered a crime.
First-time offenders may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, but beyond a first offense, you’re subject to felony charges.
Non-violent Sexual Assault
Actual physical contact leads to sexual assault charges. The most basic nonviolent sexual assault is considered fourth-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor in most circumstances.
This crime is defined as making sexual contact with someone without their consent. The punishment for this crime is up to $2,000 in fines and a year in jail. It is also one of the most common reasons offenders wind up on the Connecticut sex offender registry.
Sexually Violent Crimes
Sexually violent crimes are the next step up and often require mandatory lifetime registration with the Connecticut sex offender registry.
A third-degree sexual assault, for example, involves a firearm and becomes a Class C felony.
Another Class C felony sex crime? Second-degree sexual assault. This involves sexual intercourse where one person is in a position of power over the other.
Think high-profile cases where a teacher became sexually involved with a student, or a therapist wound up in a sexual relationship with a client. These crimes can result in up to ten years in jail and $10,000 in fines, as well as lifetime inclusion on the sex offender registry.
The list goes on and the maximum penalties only increase, but in most cases beyond these examples, besides decades behind bars and tens of thousands owed in fines?
You’re looking at life on Connecticut’s sex offender registry, and that means more than you might think…
You’re More Than Just a Felon After a CT Sex Crime Conviction
You’re a registered offender — depending upon the nature of the conviction, that is. Listen — fines can be paid, and sentences served, but when you are required to register, Connecticut’s sex offender registry can wind up being the most permanent part of your sex crime conviction.
In fact, many offenders are required to remain listed for life. That equates to a loss of privacy that goes unmatched. Your address must be placed online, where anyone can search for it. Your name is listed on public databases, and you are required to disclose your presence to your neighbors.
So let’s talk stigma.
As you would imagine, most folks are deeply biased against convicted sex offenders without ever even wanting to know an offender’s side of the story.
According to a 2014 published report covering “Labeling Theory,” the sex offender label prescribed by a registry marks an “individual as criminal, inferior, immoral, and evil” and that they are subsequently “separated from society and stigmatized.”
The study goes on to explain that “stigmatization results in the subsequent transformation of social status to one that is below the rest of society [and] this status change is often permanent and leads to the notion that the deviant subject is an outsider.”
Probably not what you were expecting after your release.
How This Stigma Can Affect Your Life Outside of Prison
It’s an understatement to say it — you’re unlikely to receive a warm reception from anyone who knows your history.
Being on the Connecticut sex offender registry affects where you can live and what jobs you can do. In fact, landlords are well within their rights to refuse housing to you based on your conviction status.
Ultimately, fighting sex crime charges from the start is your best chance of avoiding these consequences. A knowledgeable Connecticut criminal lawyer will help you fight to protest your innocence. Avoiding the harshest of penalties, social and criminal, is always worth the fight.
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