Occasionally justice does prevail and sometimes it takes a one two punch.
I recently worked a child porn case in which an eighteen year old was charged with ten counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. The case presented something of a dilemma because the pictures were actually downloaded prior to the client’s birthday. In fact, he was still completing high school when the internet crimes against children came knocking on his schoolroom door.
Side-note, the investigation did result in a great quote:
Investigating officer: when did you start looking at underage pornography?
Client: you mean when I was underage?
You see, the investigation technically began prior to his birthday but “officially” commenced three days later with the aforementioned conversation occurring several weeks later.
But I digress. Fortunately, the client secured the services of a skilled defense attorney specializing in sex crimes, Susanne Gustin. Ms. Gustin threw the first punch and after much wrangling with the deputy attorney general assigned the case, successfully obtained a plea agreement consisting of three misdemeanors to which the client pled guilty.
Now what I did not mention, is the fact this client has substantial disabilities impeding his development. Intellectually he is quite capable. Socially he struggles. Combined with his age, these factors made for compelling reasons to mitigate the sentencing outcome.
AP&P was not moved. They steadfastly recommended jail, seemingly indifferent to the devastating, and possibly life-threatening impact, such an experience would have on this young man.
Ms. Gustin was not done, however. She contacted Utah Sentencing Alternatives and asked the Sentencing Savior to prepare an Alternative Sentencing Report for her client. This second punch resulted in something rarely seen. Based on the information presented in the sentencing report, which fully explored the relevant mitigating factors, Judge Dever refused to sentence the client.
Instead, he asked both attorneys to provide additional information regarding the adult court’s jurisdiction of the case. You see Ms. Gustin spent considerable time and energy trying to convince the prosecutor that the case belonged in juvenile court. But the attorney general’s office steadfastly maintained that since the pornography was possessed by the client after his eighteenth birthday he should be charged as an adult.
Obviously the client was thrilled with the results. Yes he will face punitive sanctions in juvenile court but it will not include time in an adult correctional facility and it will certainly not require registration as a sex offender.