New Lease on Life: Attorney Elizabeth Carpenter Wins Petition to Remove Client from Sex Offender Registry
A Louisiana man now has a “new lease on life” by no longer having to register with local authorities as a sex offender, thanks to the efforts of Elizabeth B. Carpenter, Esq.
The man, now in his late 30s, was only a freshman in college when he was convicted of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile in the late 1990s following intimate contact with a minor who was only a few years younger than him. Earlier this week, Carpenter successfully argued a motion that her client should be removed from the offender registry because of a 2001 change in the law that established certain cases as misdemeanors.
When her client was charged with the crime nearly two decades ago, all convictions for carnal knowledge involving a juvenile were considered felonies and required registration as a sex offender, regardless of small differences in age between the defendant and the accuser. But in August 2001, Louisiana enacted the misdemeanor charge to address cases involving carnal knowledge of a juvenile when there is an age difference of less than four years between the defendant and the accuser.
The misdemeanor charge is similar to what other states refer to as “statutory rape” or “Romeo and Juliet” crimes. State lawmakers also agreed that it should be applied retroactively, meaning that those who were previously convicted of a felony could seek to be removed from sex-offender registration if the circumstances of their case fit the parameters of the 2001 misdemeanor statute.
“Sadly, there are many people on the sex-offender registry who do not know that they can be removed from the registry under this provision,” Carpenter said after winning the motion on behalf of her client.
Sex-offender status can lead to many problems for those who may have been unfairly convicted of a crime. They may find it difficult to maintain family relations and friendships or obtain employment and housing.
“I am thrilled with this result because anytime someone who does not fit the profile of a predator can be removed from the sex-offender registry, they feel like it gives them a new lease on life,” Carpenter added.
The age of consent for sexual relations ranges from 16 to 18 in U.S. states. Louisiana’s age of consent is 17. Therefore, if a 21-year-old has consensual sex with a 16-year-old, regardless of the younger person’s sexual history and maturity level, the adult could be charged with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
The misdemeanor charge relates to sexual intercourse between a person who is 17 or older and a person who is between 13 and 16, when the difference between the age of the victim is greater than two years but less than four years. Thus, it could be applied to a case of consensual sex involving a 19-year-old and a 16-year-old.
Laws pertaining to “carnal knowledge of a juvenile” have been criticized inside and outside of the legal community. Some experts say that a person slightly younger than the age of consent might possess enough intelligence and common sense to make mature decisions about sex, while some adults might never develop that ability, no matter their age.
If you’ve been charged with felony and misdemeanor charges involving sex-related offenses, contact New Orleans sex crimes Attorney Elizabeth Bagert Carpenter for a consultation. Let her experience work for you.