He grabbed girl's arm -- now he's a sex offender

How's this for stupidity? This bit of legal bullshit has probably ruined this guy's life! Think about it:

"This is the most stupid ruling the appellate court has rendered in years," said Barnaby's Chicago attorney, Frederick Cohn. "If you see a 15-year-old beating up your 8-year-old and you grab that kid's hand and are found guilty of unlawful restraint, do you now have to register as a sex offender?"

This illustrates a huge problem with "Scarlet Letter" laws: what constitutes a sex offense? Well, let's look at some examples: indecent exposure is certainly a sex offense, isn't it? Let's say that you're out drinking at the neighborhood bar, you get pretty plastered and decide to do the right thing and walk home - but on the way you have an incredible urge to empty your bladder, so (being a guy), you take a whiz behind a phone pole in a dark alley. If a police officer happens upon you, you'll be arrested for two things: public intoxication and indecent exposure - congratulations, you're now a registered sex offender for the rest of your life!

The story is not apocryphal - I knew a gentleman that faced exactly that situation.

Crimes have circumstances, and it is the duty of the justice system to determine if those circumstances mitigate or exacerbate the crime. Laws that require certain sentences in all cases are worse than stupid: they're dangerous, and have no place in a free society.

Fitzroy Barnaby said he had to swerve to avoid hitting the 14-year-old Des Plaines girl who walked in front of his car.

(link) [Chicago Sun-Times]

via Overlawyered

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