While a sexual relationship with a teacher is innocently portrayed as the subject of countless fantasies in music, movies, and television, the real life consequences of hooking up with a student are not so glamorous. Recently, a teacher at Davie County High School showed just how life-changing these accusations or charges can be.
On December 1, the Davie County School System read reports that one of their teachers, Jessica Welch Greene, 27, was engaging in a sexual relationship with one of the students at the school. She was suspended without pay the following day as officials began to investigate the relationship.
Greene was charged with three counts of sexual activity with a student on December 8 after investigators found that the teacher had had sex with a male student both on and off campus during the month of November.
Her Occupation – Not the Age of the Student – Led to the Charges
While many people may think that the issue with Greene’s sexual relationship is the age of the student, her charges actually stem from her role as a teacher.
In North Carolina, the age of consent is 16 years old. Having consensual sex with a 16 or 17 year old will not necessarily result in statutory rape charges. However, Greene worked as a teacher, and adults who work in education cannot have sex with students even if they are of a consenting age.
This charge is not as serious as statutory rape in North Carolina, but can still put you in jail for a long time. North Carolina law states that “Intercourse and Sexual Offense with Certain Victims (schools)” is a Class A1 misdemeanor if the student and teacher were less than four years apart, and a Class G felony if the student and teacher were more than four years apart.
It is safe to assume that Greene, 27, was more than four years older than her student. If convicted on Class G felony charges, Greene will face between 8-31 months in prison. Additionally, her felony charge will continue to follow her throughout her life – both in and out of the courtroom.
Things could have been worse, though. If this were a situation in a middle school and the child was under the age of 13, the perpetrator would be facing Class B1 felony charges. Individuals convicted of Class B1 felonies may face life imprisonment without parole.
More Penalties than Jail Time
Greene has not been found guilty. If she is convicted, she may end up with a reduced sentence that leaves her free from jail. It is even possible that her charges could still be dropped.
Despite this, the penalties of the accusation and charge have already begun to affect her life. She will be suspended without pay for months and lose her main source of income. Her name is now attached to this news story, which has been reported on sites like the New York Daily News and WNCN.com. One quick Google search by a potential employer, landlord, or a neighbor will reveal her criminal past.
There is almost no chance at all that Greene will be allowed to work for a school system ever again.
If Greene is found guilty of her felony charges, she faces more than just a few months in jail. She may also face up to $25,000 in fines and be required to attend counseling or education courses related to her crimes. Felons also lose the right to vote or participate in a jury in North Carolina until all of the terms of their penalties have been met.
Let’s not forget that individuals convicted of many felony sex crimes, including Intercourse and Sexual Offense with Certain Victims, are required to register on North Carolina’s sex offender registry. This is a public list that gives citizens details about an offender’s criminal history, address, date of birth, and more.
Sex offenders are required to update their registration for 30 years after they are convicted of sex crimes, and failing to register is a separate crime in North Carolina that can send an offender back to jail.
Sex offenders have even more restrictions on them outside of registering. There are certain places they can and cannot go, restrictions on where they can live, and – at least for now – North Carolina even forbids sex offenders to access many large social media sites, like Facebook.
As you can see, a sex crime – even if the individual is just charged and not convicted – can destroy a life. That is why those charged with sex crimes need to take action immediately to fight for dropped charges or a mitigated sentence. Contact a North Carolina sex crimes lawyer today to get started on crafting the strongest defense possible.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.