1. Section 7: The Legal and Legislative Response
  2. Goals
    • This section of the curriculum will help you to understand:
      • Changes in the legislative response to juvenile sex offenders in recent decades;
      • The application of federal registration and community notification laws to juvenile sex offenders at the state level;
      • The presence of sexually violent predator/civil commitment laws that apply to juveniles offenders; and
      • Some of the concerns about applying these laws to juvenile offenders without consideration of how they impact juveniles in a different way than their adult counterparts.
  3. Legal Trends in the Disposition and Management of Juvenile Offenders
    • Reductions in the lower age by which youth could be tried as adults
    • Elimination of the strict confidentiality guidelines for some juvenile court records and proceedings
    • The establishment of mandatory minimum sentence structures for juvenile crimes
    • The reduction of judicial discretion in the juvenile and family courts
  4. Confidential Information
  5. Confidentiality Waivers
  6. Record Sealing
  7. Open Hearings
  8. No Minimum Age
  9. Cases Excluded From Juvenile Court
  10. Cases Waived to Adult Court
  11. Cases Waived to Adult Courts
    • Delinquency cases waived to adult criminal courts increased 71% between 1985 and 1994.
    • In 1996, 73% of juvenile sex offenders transferred to criminal court were sentenced to prison and received an average maximum sentence of 105 months.
  12. History of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Statutes
    • In 1990, Washington made changes in their penalties for sex offenders, including:
      • Civil commitment
      • Registration
      • Community Notification
    • In 1991, Minnesota passed a sex offender registration act.
    • In 1995, New Jersey enacted community notification legislation.
  13. History of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Statutes (Continued)
    • In 1994, Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Act, which required all states to create sex offender registries.
    • In 1996, Congress signed the Megan’s Law Amendment, which required all states to conduct community notification.
    • In 1998, Congress passed a law that called for the creation of a National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR). The purpose of NSOR is to assist in tracking sex offenders as they move between states.
  14. Goals of Community Notification and Registration Laws
    • These laws were originally developed to:
      • Deter potential sex offenders
      • Reduce instances of reoffending among known sex offenders
      • Provide law enforcement with information on known sex offenders
      • Share information with the public about sex offenders residing in their communities
  15. National Chronology of Sex Offender Registration and Megan’s Law Legislation
  16. Concerns About Applying Registration and Notification Laws to Juvenile Offenders
    • The “labeling” effect these laws have on youthful offenders can be detrimental.
    • There is an absence of research on the efficacy of these laws as they relate to juveniles.
    • Some states do not differentiate which offenses trigger registration and community notification requirements for juvenile offenders.
  17. Concerns About Applying Registration and Notification Laws to Juvenile Offenders (Continued)
    • Juveniles may be subject to the same requirements as adults, but are not always afforded the same procedural safeguards.
    • Juvenile sex offenses may be underreported or not adjudicated as sex crimes to avoid triggering notification and registration requirements.
    • Registration and notification are resource intensive and sometimes applied without considerations for offenders’ risk levels.
  18. Juveniles Required to Register
  19. Separate Registration Laws for Juveniles
  20. Minimum Age for Registration
  21. Youngest Age at Which Juveniles Must Register
    • North Carolina law applies to juveniles who were at least 11 years of age when they committed the offense, and deemed a danger to the community.
    • Indiana law applies to juveniles who were at least 14 years of age, and deemed likely to be repeat offenders.
    • South Dakota law applies to juveniles who were at least 15 years of age.
    • Ohio, Idaho, and Okalahoma registration laws apply to juveniles 14 years of age and older.
  22. Termination of Registration
  23. Specialized Approaches to Juvenile Registration: Texas Law
    • Un–registration
      • Juvenile courts release adjudicated sex offenders from registration requirements.
      • A hearing is held to weigh the protection of the public versus the harm to juveniles and their families.
    • De–registration
      • Judges terminate registration requirements for juveniles who are already registered.
    • Non–public registration
      • Courts order information on registered juvenile offenders not to be disclosed to the public and to be used only by law enforcement personnel to conduct criminal investigations.
  24. Specialized Approaches to Juvenile Registration:  Oregon Law
    • Juveniles can petition the court and apply for relief from registration two years after the expiration of their supervision period.
      • Youths apply for relief through the District Attorney’s Office or Juvenile Court.
      • A court hearing is scheduled to hear evidence.
  25. Nature and Maintenance of Juvenile Sex Offender Registry Information
    • In order to balance the interests of juveniles and the “right to know”:
      • Idaho maintains a separate registry for juvenile offenders that is only accessible to the public upon request.
      • In Michigan, information on registered juvenile offenders is available only to law enforcement until the juvenile is 18, at which time their names are made public.
      • Missouri maintains juveniles’ information in a court database to which there is limited access.
  26. Issues with Registering Juveniles
    • When deciding who maintains the registry and what information is provided, consider:
      • The nature and type of information that will be collected.
      • Implications of providing public access to traditionally confidential juvenile records.
      • The potential to inadvertently expose victims.
  27. Juveniles Subject to Community Notification
  28. Additional Concerns With Applying Notification Laws to Juveniles
    • In addition to the considerations already mentioned:
      • Potential social stigma—can damage prosocial links to peers and the community.
      • Stress of notification can exacerbate poor coping skills and take the youth’s attention away from treatment and other endeavors related to his successful reintegration back into the community.
  29. Specialized Approaches to Juvenile Notification: Alabama Law
    • Juveniles are not subject to automatic community notification, but are required to receive treatment and register upon release.
    • Prior to release, an assessment is conducted to determine juveniles’ risk of reoffending.
    • If notification is deemed necessary, each case is assessed to determine the most effective and judicious use of notification.
  30. Civil Commitment Laws
    • Designed for individuals who suffer from significant mental health difficulties and pose a danger to themselves or others.
    • Are civil procedures that allow for commitment to a secure mental health facility.
    • These laws are intended to target the most repetitive of dangerous sex offenders.
    • Civil commitment laws are commonly known as sexually violent predator (SVP) laws.
  31. Concerns With Applying Civil Commitment Laws to Juveniles
    • Recidivism rates of juvenile sex offenders are low.
    • Adult oriented dispositions, such as civil commitment, can impact the outcomes with juvenile sex offenders.
    • Aggregating groups of antisocial individuals and placing youth with predatory adults is problematic.
  32. Concerns With Applying Civil Commitment Laws to Juveniles (Continued)
    • Diagnosis may be broad and may fail to limit the scope of civil commitment to the most dangerous offenders.
    • The high prevalence of co–occurring mental health needs among juveniles may qualify many of these youth for civil commitment.
    • The ability (or inability) of mental health experts to predict with accuracy that an individual is likely to recidivate is cause for concern when considering prolonged commitment.
  33. SVP Civil Commitment Laws
  34. A Sample of State Civil Commitment Laws
    • Arizona and Florida only consider offenders 18 years of age and older eligible for civil commitment.
    • In Illinois, Washington, and Wisconsin, juveniles of any age are subject to the law.
    • Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, and Wisconsin apply the law to juveniles and adults.
    • Pennsylvania authorizes civil commitment of juveniles “aging out” of the system who have a mental abnormality that increases their risk to reoffend.
    • Washington permits civil commitment of juveniles who are deemed a high risk to the public.
  35. Summary
    • There has been a trend in recent years to impose “get tough” legislative measures on juvenile sex offenders.
    • These laws can result in potential unintended consequences for juveniles, their families, and victims of juvenile perpetrated sexual assault.
    • The potential impact of these laws when applied to juvenile sex offenders should be considered prior to implementation.

The Legal and Legislative Response Topic Slides