A couple of weeks ago, Mel Reynolds announced that he will be running for Congress even though he is a convicted felon. Although felons are not allowed to run for elected office in Illinois, convicted felons are not barred from running for Congress. Reynolds announced late last month that he is hoping to fill the seat left vacant by Jesse Jackson Jr. in the 2nd Congressional District.
Although many folks have been focusing on the candidate’s criminal history since he announced his plans to run for Congress again, Reynolds is asking that voters understand that his crimes in the past were “mistakes.” He is trying to move on from his mistakes, which were committed nearly 20 years ago. But as we have mentioned before on our Lake County criminal defense law blog, sex crimes can have lasting consequences and damage reputations.
According to reports, Reynolds was convicted nearly 20 years ago of having a sexual relationship with a volunteer campaign worker who was under the age of 18. Because the campaign worker was a minor, Reynolds was charged with child sex offenses.
The former congressman was convicted of the sex crimes in 1995. He was later sentenced to serve five years in jail and register as a sex offender in Illinois. The former congressman does not have to register as a sex offender anymore, but he still cannot go within 500 feet of schools or parks, DNAinfo reports. Folks who have been convicted of sex crimes in Illinois could face serious felony charges for stepping too close to school property, parks, playgrounds or daycare centers.
Moving on from any type of criminal conviction can be difficult, but it may be especially challenging for those whose crimes are made public for decades. Sex crimes certainly may result in legal consequences, but folks like the former congressman face many social consequences as well. In any criminal case, it is important that defendants understand the charges that have been filed against them, and it is also important that they consider the benefits of working with an attorney before they proceed with their cases.
Source: DNAinfo, “Reynolds’ ‘Redemption’ Run for Congress Must Stay Clear of Parks, Schools,” Mark Konkol, Dec. 3, 2012