The country is taking a stand on a recent sentence, where a judge sentenced a former teacher to thirty days in prison after being charged with sexual intercourse without consent, or statutory rape, of one of his students.
Last summer, Montana teacher Stacey Dean Rambold was convicted of raping a fourteen-year-old student. Cherice Morales committed suicide before herseventeenth birthday, while the trial was still pending.
There was a public outcry against District Judge G. Todd Baugh, whose decision seemed improper.
Baugh stated that Morales acted older than her age and was partly at fault for her rape.
Now, the Montana Judicial Standards Commission has filed a complaint to the Supreme Court. The complaint states that Baugh committed judicial misconduct by giving the high school teacher a lighter penalty.
The Billings Gazette points out that Baugh’s decision ran counter to several Montana rules and laws. First, Baugh’s comments that the fourteen-year-old was partly at fault contradicts a Montana rule stating that anybody under the age of sixteen is legally incapable of giving consent.
Second, the sentence that Baugh imposed disregarded state law, which says that the penalty for statutory rape is two to one hundred years and a maximum fine of fifty thousand dollars.
Judge Baugh will not be running for another six-year term. The Supreme Court recommended that his term be suspended for thirty days without pay. He will also be publically censured. If Baugh does not appeal the judicial discipline, he will be suspended December 1, 2014.
Minimum penalties for certain sex crimes are in place for judicial order and to help communities feel secure. However, they vary from state to state.
Under California’s laws, statutory rape has a minimum penalty of up to one year in county jail as a misdemeanor. Statutory rape can also be prosecuted as a felony, which includes a possible punishment of three years in prison.
If this case were in a California court, the sex offender would have to serve two to four years. The offender was over twenty-one years of age, and the minor was under the age of sixteen. It would have been considered a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the court’s decision.
In the Montana case a sentence of only serving thirty days in jail was extremely lenient, and many people are supporting the Montana Supreme Court’s decision to suspend Baugh.
Because Baugh’s decision was ruled illegal, Rambold will likely have to return to prison to serve more time, as he has already been released after serving thirty days.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a sexual offense/crime, it’s important to immediately contact an experienced lawyer who can explain all of your legal options. The sex crime defense lawyers at Greenberg & Greenberg, APLC are knowledgeable of California’s laws and able to answer any questions related to sex crimes in California. They have successfully defended clients charged with serious sex offenses.