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“It almost makes you aghast to see how serious this stuff gets,” said John Leunig, a criminal attorney in St.Louis Park who has defended teens accused of sex crimes.He was banned from Simley and from having contact with girls younger than age 16.He was ordered to 30 hours of community work service and three days in jail.Other states have changed their laws to differentiate consensual sex from predatory crimes.Florida adopted a “Romeo and Juliet” law in 2007, allowing some people to petition the court to forgo registering as a sex offender.Attempts to reach Knowlton for comment were unsuccessful. Yang, 19, who is pursuing a law degree at Briar Cliff University in Iowa, said it wasn’t fair for his former friend to be charged with a felony for a consensual, long-term relationship.
Those who register must tell authorities where they live, work and go to school and what vehicle they drive.
Teens and young adults sometimes aren’t aware of the possible criminal consequences of dating someone underage, attorneys say.
What seems like a high school romance can lead to a felony conviction and having to register as a sexual offender.
Such a legal arrangement is called a stay of adjudication.
It means a defendant won’t be adjudicated as guilty, as long as he or she complies with the court’s conditions.
“Of course, she’s under the age of consent, and no matter what it’s not right,” Yang said.