Juxtapostion of Laws Leads to Paradoxical Outcome

Its hard to ensure that laws written at different times and for different reasons are logically coherent, and sometimes they just aren’t. The result, as the Fayetteville Observer reports, can be absurd:

A Fayetteville teenager who faced felony charges for making and possessing sexually explicit photos of himself agreed Sept. 4 to a plea bargain to a reduced charge and is serving a year of probation.

Cormega Zyon Copening, 17, faced four felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor because of the photos of himself that law enforcement found on his cellphone. He faced a fifth such charge for a sexually explicit picture he had of his 16-year-old girlfriend.
Copening was charged as an adult who exploited himself sexually because North Carolina criminal law classifies teens aged 16 and 17 as adults when they commit crimes, yet also defines them as minors under the age of 18 when they are the victims of crime.

Meanwhile, the age of consent for sexual activity in North Carolina is 16, but that does not extend to sexually explicit photos or videos that 16- or 17-year-olds might make of themselves with or for their love interests….

In a deferred prosecution arrangement, Copening admitted responsibility to two misdemeanor counts of disseminating harmful material to minors – specifically to showing his girlfriend his photos of himself. Final judgment was not entered in the case…

If Copening complies with the [terms of his] punishment, District Attorney Billy West’s office in September 2016 will dismiss the misdemeanor. This will prevent a conviction from going on his record.

Then Copening can ask the government to expunge his public record so that it won’t say he was ever charged in the first place.

Copening’s girlfriend, 16-year-old Brianna Denson, is serving a similar term of probation. She had been charged with two counts of felony sexual exploitation of a minor for making and possessing her photo. She pleaded guilty in July to a single count of disseminating harmful material to minors. Her charge, too, is to be dismissed next year once she completes her probation.
Denson previously attended Douglas Byrd and Westover high schools.

Jon Guze / Director of Legal Studies

Jon Guze is the Director of Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, Jon practiced law in Durham, North Carolina for over twent...

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