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Sex crimes ruling in St. Louis could affect Ohio convicts

A ruling in nearby St. Louis could have significant impact on the way that alleged sex offender cases are handled in neighboring states, including Ohio. A recent ruling out of the federal appeals court in St. Louis determined that Minnesota's practice of holding sex crimes convicts past their sentenced prison terms protects the public, essentially compromising the rights of those who have been sentenced. Attorneys and civil rights advocates are dismayed at the ruling, which they say undoes about five years of work in attempting to protect convicts who fall under the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

The decision comes after a group of sex offenders filed a suit against the state several years ago, arguing that their legal rights were being violated because they were being held past their sentences. However, the federal appeals court decided that those victims were given "adequate constitutional protections." Attorneys in the case disagree, saying that the victims' rights were violated and they were held illegally past their sentenced terms. Minnesota has also been criticized by other federal judges because of their overly strict sex offender registry, which unfairly punishes those who have been convicted of sex crimes.

Attorneys in the case say they are afraid that their clients will now languish in prison far past their sentenced terms because it will simply be easier for authorities to take the path of least resistance -- meaning that they will do nothing at all to seek the convicts' release. Experts in the matter say that this is a very real danger. The fact is that sex crimes are simply viewed in an unfair light in many jurisdictions, making criminal defense representation much more important. Defendants may be able to avoid unfair prison sentences by seeking the help of a qualified attorney who is educated about the biased practices that often plague sex crimes cases.

Source: Tribune News Service, "Sex Offender Ruling May 'Send a Signal to States'," Chris Serres, Jan. 04, 2017

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