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North Carolina Court Reverses Sex Offender Probation Violation Conviction

A 38-year-old man's probation violation conviction for failure to register as a sex offender was reversed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The decision held that the man had used good faith efforts to try to comply with the terms of his probation.

The man was convicted in 2000 of felonious restraint of a minor, which is a North Carolina sex offense. As a result of the conviction, he was required to register as a sex offender. In 2007, however, he was convicted of failure to register as a sex offender. The sentence for his failure to register was 15-18 months in prison, but the sentence was suspended in lieu of 36 months of supervised probation.

As part of his supervised probation, he was required to complete a comprehensive sexual abuse treatment program, and he was supposed to pay for the program out of his own funds. His probation officer, however, filed a claim that he had not completed the program by 2010.

In fact, the officer testified at a probation violation hearing that the man had only completed 27 out of the required 30 classes for the program due to late payments. The trial court judge found the man guilty of the probation violation and ordered jail time.

The Court of Appeals reversed the guilty conviction for the probation violation. The Court held that the man tried to complete the course but that the cost, combined with his inability to find a job, precluded him from doing do. The Court ruled that the man did not willfully fail to pay for the course or complete the sex offender treatment course.

This North Carolina criminal law decision is important for other offenders who are unable to complete treatment programs due to the costs of the programs.

Source: Citizen-Times, "Appeals Court reverses decision in sex offender probation case," Clarke Morrison, 7/23/2011

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