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Twelve Year Prison Sentence Reasonable for Sex Offender

By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on January 05, 2012 3:45 PM

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a sentence of 144 months in prison and a lifetime of supervised release for a Minnesota man convicted of one count of traveling to have sex with a minor.

Darrin Anderson, a 36-year-old resident of Middle River, Minnesota, received the lengthy sentence for targeting young girls on Facebook for sex. The victim Anderson was arrested for contacting was 13 at the time.

After receiving reports of the incident with the young teen, authorities obtained a search warrant of the Facebook profile and chats of a fictitious person Anderson had created. Using the fake identity, Anderson engaged in hundreds of private chats with local minors and attempted to sexually solicit them, according to KFYR-TV.

Anderson pleaded guilty in February 2011 to traveling from North Dakota to Minnesota to have sex with the 13-year-old girl in exchange for $300. Instead of following the Sentencing Guidelines for Anderson's offense, the district court found Anderson's conduct had been so "incredible in its perversity" that it varied upward from the Guidelines and sentenced him to 144 months.

Anderson appealed his sentence in October, which also included prohibiting him from drinking alcohol and possessing sexually explicit literature, arguing that its length was substantively unreasonable.

The Eighth Circuit upheld the district court's sentence, holding that the district court properly considered the egregiousness of Anderson's conduct, the potential for unwarranted sentencing disparities with similar offenses, and the desire to protect the public from Anderson.

Further, the Eighth Circuit did not find Anderson's prohibition from consuming alcohol and possessing pornography to be unreasonable, holding that the district court made the necessary individualized findings that both activities "reasonably related ... to the crime or to something in the defendant's history."

The Eighth Circuit considered Anderson's provision of alcohol to his victims before and after sex "as part of the grooming process" and his membership on the Facebook group "All i want to do is get drunk and take pictures!!!" as evidence that alcohol played a role in Anderson's offense.

Which leads us to one point: Make sure you know who your clients friend on Facebook and the groups they join. You never know if it'll haunt a sentencing hearing.

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