Congress Votes to Ban Certain Sex Offenders From Working at Schools; Dallas Sex Offenses Lawyer Says Law Would Likely Have Little Effect

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The United States House of Representatives recently passed House Resolution 2083, which prohibits sex offenders from working in school as teachers. Dallas child sex offenses lawyer Paul Stuckle said the law is unlikely to have much of a practical effect, as it is already difficult for sex offenders to find employment, especially in schools.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 2083, titled the "Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act." According to Congressional documents, it was officially referred in the U.S. Senate last Monday, October 28. Paul Stuckle, a Dallas child sex offenses lawyer, said the bill may be good politics, but is unlikely to have much of a practical effect, as penalties for child sex offenses are harsh enough to prevent them from working in schools, anyway.

The bill requires public schools to perform a background check on every school employee that is to be hired, and periodically run additional background checks on the employees already working at the school. If the background checks turns up one of several crimes listed in the law, the school is to either not hire the person or, if he or she is already an employee, terminate them.

The crimes listed include child abuse, child neglect, child pornography, spousal abuse, rape, sexual assault, kidnapping, a crime against children or any violent or sexual crime against a minor.

According to the Associated Press, no member of Congress voted against the bill, though Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota warned that the bill made it so people could not overcome a criminal background. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers both opposed the bill, but their protest did not sway any representatives to vote against it.

The measure must now pass the Senate and be signed by the President.

Stuckle, a Dallas child sex crimes defense lawyer, said the punishments in the bill are unlikely to have a very profound effect on the life of a person convicted of such a crime, even if that person was a teacher. That's because penalties are already harsh enough, and it is so difficult to escape such a record, that their chances of being hired are marginal, anyway, he said.

Any child sexual abuse charge is a felony in Texas. The specific charges depend on the circumstances, but a conviction can result in at least two years in prison and as much as life, along with a fine of up to $10,000.

Additionally, a conviction results in the defendant being required to register as a sex offender. A background check will not even be necessary; information about his or her crime will be available to anyone with internet access, Stuckle said.

The conviction cannot be expunged from the person's criminal record, though, meaning that in the likely event of a background check, the crime would be seen and a public school would be extremely unlikely to hire him or her, Stuckle said.

If charged with a sex offense against a child, it is very important to hire experienced counsel, Stuckle said. The consequences are too grave not to, he added.

Paul Stuckle is a Dallas sex crimes defense lawyer who represents defendants against charges of child sex abuse, sexual assault and other charges throughout the State of Texas.

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Paul Stuckle
since: 07/2009
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