Child sexual abuse is a serious crime that carries serious penalties. In North Dakota, a conviction of sexual exploitation of minors carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in federal prison. In reality, it can seem as if all those found guilty of sexually abusing a minor are given a life sentence.

Even after jail sentences are served, sex offender treatment programs are completed, and parole stipulations enforced, convicted sex offenders are often labeled for life. The damage to an individual’s reputation in both their personal life and in their professional life can be far reaching and permanent.

A North Dakota woman was recently sentenced to four years in jail after being convicted of sexually abusing two children. She could have faced life in prison, but the fact that the evidence was nearly 20 years old and the fact that both victims had become convicted child molesters themselves resulted in a less severe sentence.

The convicted woman’s father said that his daughter was as much a victim of the psychological damage of child sexual abuse as the two boys she admitted to assaulting. The victims had all become the abusers.

It is often the case that many sexual offenders were victims of child sexual abuse themselves and that the psychological damage they suffered as a result of the abuse propels them into a vicious cycle where they perpetuate the crimes inflicted upon them onto other victims.

Stereotypes and prejudices abound, and charges of criminal sexual misconduct involving a child can present a number of legal challenges. But a skilled criminal defense lawyer understands both the sensitive nature and the complexities that exist in such cases, not only for the victim, but also for the accused.

The stigma of being convicted of child sexual abuse can be a life sentence, but working with an attorney to defend against charges can help people avoid exposure to unfair or overly harsh punishment.

Source: Inforum, “Fargo woman sentenced to 4 years for sex assaults on two boys,” Emily Welker, April 14, 2014