Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Paraphiliac Pedophile's Acceptance of Responsibility for the Sexual Exploitation of Children Is Grounds for Sentence Reduction

Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Paraphiliac Pedophile's Acceptance of Responsibility for the Sexual Exploitation of Children Is Grounds for Sentence Reduction

Article excerpt

The future of the federal sentencing guidelines is somewhat in doubt following the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004). Under the guidelines as they currently exist, however, a trial judge in the federal system is to consider a number of factors in deciding whether to enhance or reduce a convicted defendant's sentence. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a defendant who admitted to and attempted to remedy his mental disorder should be granted a sentence reduction.

A 63-old pedophile pled guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of children, admitted to having sex with several hundred children throughout his lifetime, and acknowledged his condition as a mental illness. Under the federal guidelines, a defendant is entitled to a reduction when the defendant "clearly demonstrates acceptance of responsibility." The trial court refused to grant this reduction because during sentencing the defendant indicated he believed that a child at age ten has the ability to consent to having sex with an adult. The Fourth Circuit reversed, noting that our legal system should not punish defendants for seeking the counseling and rehabilitation that they require.

The Fourth Circuit acknowledged that a guilty plea alone does not automatically entitle a defendant to a reduction for acceptance of responsibility. Rather, the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he has clearly recognized and affirmatively accepted personal responsibility for his criminal conduct. …

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