In re D.B.
In Ohio, a 12-year-old boy was charged and prosecuted for statutory rape—a first degree felony—for intimate conduct with an 11-year-old male friend. After finding that D.B. had engaged in voluntary conduct with his friend, the court sentenced D.B. to indefinite probation, prohibited him from any contact with his friend, and ordered that he attend counseling and group therapy for sex offenders. If the boy violated any of these conditions, he could be incarcerated until age 21. NCLR, the National Juvenile Defender Center, and the Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in August of 2010 arguing that it was unconstitutional to apply this law to a child under 13—a member of the very class the law was designed to protect. The brief argued that giving prosecutors discretion to bring such charges against either participant was unfair and could be used to target youth who are perceived as gay. The brief also argued that the consequences of a conviction as a sex offender for a child are severely disproportionate to the conduct, including the fact that the conviction can never be expunged from the child’s juvenile record and that he would have to register as a sex offender if he moved to some other states.
On June 8, 2011, in a unanimous decision, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed that the law was unconstitutional as applied to any child under 13, and reversed D.B.’s conviction. Brooke Burns, from the Juvenile Division of the Office of the Ohio Public Defender argued the appeal on behalf of D.B.
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