Missouri sex crimes penalties subject of new lawsuit

Many states have strict penalties in place for those individuals convicted of sex crimes. Often, these types of cases will result in significant jail time, and after the person completes the sentence, he or she will have to register as a sex offender. These registration requirements can last for many years and make it very challenging for the person to readjust to society.

In Missouri, individuals convicted of the most serious sex crimes may be placed into the state's Sex Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Service (SORTS) program. This program, which started in 1999, calls for these individuals to be civilly committed after their prison sentences have been completed because they have been deemed likely to reoffend. These offenders are then required to complete treatment in a mental health facility, which lasts for an indefinite period of time until the offender is thought to be cured.

Recently, a lawsuit was filed against the state because of the SORTS program. The suit alleges that the program is fundamentally flawed, and is restricting the freedom of offenders who have completed their prison time.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reviewed some of the numbers associated with the program, and learned some surprising facts. The program costs $25 million dollars each year, and some have questioned whether the state is getting its money's worth.

Of the 200 individuals who been required to participate, not a single one has managed to complete treatment. Three offenders have been granted conditional release, which means they are allowed out of the facility, but it is only for a limited period of time.

The suit could force legislators to review the penalties for sex crimes. If the civil commitment program is ended, it could mean more jail time for these offenders, or different sex offender registration monitoring requirements.

Police will often perform very extensive investigations to see what evidence might be available against the accused individual. If you have been accused of committing a sex crime, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before you speak with law enforcement officers or prosecutors.

Your attorney can explain the charges to you, so that you understand the seriousness of the accusations. If you are eventually charged with the offense, your attorney can begin preparing an aggressive defense, and help you protect yourself throughout the proceedings.

These crimes often carry long prison sentences and will require you to have to register as a sex offender. This can have a major impact upon your ability to find a job or a place to live after you have completed your time.