Forty-one-year-old Harvey West Jr. pleaded guilty to five sex offense charges in 2000. He was released from jail in 2006 and ordered to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years.
He was recently nominated to serve as an alternate delegate to the GOP national convention set to take place in Tampa this year, but he quickly resigned the nomination after his criminal history was revealed in the local newspaper. He said he did not want to become a weapon for political opponents to attack his side with.
When he was 28, West had to make a decision that changed his life. Faced with five charges of taking indecent liberties with a minor, he chose to plead guilty rather than face trial and an unknown sentence if he was convicted of the sex offenses. At least if he agreed to a plea deal, he would know what punishment he was facing.
West has maintained that he is innocent of the sex crimes but that he had no good options when faced with a known six years in prison or an unknown of many, many more.
Substantial consequences follow any conviction for or guilty plea to sex offense charges. Even well after a jail or prison term is served, those with a sex offense on his or her record may be left paying for a crime for several years, as West recently found out.
Being forced to register on the North Carolina sex offender registry also creates problems for individuals who have paid what was deemed their 'debt to society.' Before agreeing to any 'deal' when sex charges are involved, speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.
Source: Myrtle Beach online, "Sex offender resigns as NC alternate GOP delegate," August 3, 2012