Nevada Woman Sentenced to Life Imprisonment For Kissing 13-Year-Old Boy and Putting His Hand on Her Breast

In Nevada, the sentence of Michelle Lyn Taylor, 34, is attracting considerable debate. Taylor was convicted of lewdness with a minor under 14 after kissing a friend’s 13-year-old child, putting his hand on her breast, and offering to have sex with him. Her sentence? Life in prison.

Taylor is the latest example of how mandatory minimums can produce grotesque results. While what she did was wrong and deserved punishment, she has been given a longer sentence than some murderers and rapists in this country. Her public defender noted that she was wearing a bra at the time of the touching and Stacey Thoman, who actively participated in the sexual abuse of her daughter in another case, received only a four-to-20 year sentence.

Elko County District Attorney Gary Woodbury was unapologetic and noted that Taylor would not plead guilty because she did not want to register as a sex offender.

The case is an excellent example of how mandatory minimum sentencing laws can mutate our legal system. Prosecutors can threaten life imprisonment if a person does not enter a plea on a lesser charge. If they refuse, they prosecute in the full knowledge that a conviction would result in a life sentence. Notably, the prosecutor in the video below from the sentencing hearing admits that “the sentence is way out of line.”

The public defender noted that the jury was never told that a conviction would require a sentence of life in prison. She claims that the prosecutor never offered a plea agreement and that the prosecutor refused to bring an alternative charge in full knowledge of the likely outcome. She also argues that the law is cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court has effectively gutted the limitation on such sentencings under the Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment clause. In Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003), the Court ruled that it did not violate the Constitution for a California jury to impose a 50 years to life sentence under its three-strikes law for a man convicted of shoplifting nine videotapes from a KMart. These petty theft charges would normally be treated as misdemeanors with a $150 fine, but the court and prosecutor insisted on treating them as a felony to trigger the three-strikes law.

On the same day, the Court upheld the sentence of Gary Ewing who stole three golf clubs worth $399 each from the pro shop of the El Segundo Golf Course in El Segundo, California. Again, the Court in Ewing v. California, 538 U.S. 11 (2003), upheld the 25-to-life sentence under California’s three strikes law in a decision by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The sentencing law allows for probation after ten years.

For the story, click here and here.

25 thoughts on “Nevada Woman Sentenced to Life Imprisonment For Kissing 13-Year-Old Boy and Putting His Hand on Her Breast

  1. Unbelievable. Did her public defender make clear to her that her refusal to become a registered sex offender might result in a life sentence? Can she appeal the sentence on some basis? I don’t any expertise in criminal law, sense that there was some screw up here or miscommunication.

  2. Under the knee jerk Mandatory minimums laws. The Judges are left with very little discretion. I remember a case where a person was arrested for eating grapes at a grocery store. This usual 2 year crime resulted in the Prosecutor charging him with a supplemental habitual. It was taken to trial, he lost and the man was sentenced to life, for eating grapes. His prior record was 4 misdemeanors. In the state that I am speaking 2 prior misdemeanors can result in a habitual charge. This can lead to double the sentence or life. Under the “shoplifting” charge 2 will get you life.

    It is as much as a problem for crack and coke. You get less time for coke. Tell me which race can more easily afford coke? I am unsure of what happened to the equal treatment law before congress, but it really sucks if you are a minority and get busted with crack.

  3. “the Court ruled that it did not violate the Constitution for a California jury to impose a 50 years to life sentence under its three-strikes law for a man convicted of shoplifting nine videotapes from a KMart”

    Tell that court to come suck my amoral one…

  4. Can we now sue “The Land of The Free” (TM) for fraudulent advertising?

    Seriously, what real recourse does an outraged American have to end these crazily over-the-top sentences? The USA has more prisoners than any other country, has an incarceration rate 5 to 10 times higher than Canada and Western Europe, and it’s as if our courts, our politicians, and our electorate don’t know AND don’t care.

    Our knee-jerk, sound-bite-based political culture is such that any kind of sentencing reform is political suicide; the situation seems completely and utterly unfixable.

    At what point do you just decide that this is not the kind of country you want to raise your children in, and just leave? For me, that point is within sight.

  5. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws are inherently unjust because they deny the individuality of the defendant and because they constitute an ill-advised and improper usurpation by the legislative branch of powers that should be solely exercisable by the judicial branch. They make a mockery of the idea that the punishment should fit the crime and encourage disrespect for the law.

  6. But men who rape and murder children and women are usually out on the streets in 15 to 20 years.

    I guess that fair.

  7. This case is just one more example of how screwed up the mandatory minimum laws are. In the right wing’s urge to imprison all of the infidels, these laws are not only filling up our prisons, they are also putting people into hard time for ridiculous crimes! Does Canada have mandatory minimums?

  8. Brings up a question… if I had a similar thing happen and I don’t consider it molestation to this day, was it molestation?

    Is there a point where the individual harm (or lack of it) prevale over the law?

  9. Life sentence for child abuse? It is not necessary, although the woman tries to have sex with the kid. Still, it not considerate that the case falls into life imprisonment. The act has not been made.

  10. THIS IS THE MOST OBSURD THING I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE. HOW IN THE WORLD CAN U SENTENCE THIS WOMAN TO LIFE IN PRISON, WHEN THERE ARE MEN AND WOMAN IN THIS COUNTRY THAT HAVE RAPPED AND SEXUALLY ASSAULTED LITTLE GIRLS AND BOYS. AND THATS OK??? THEY GET PROBATION, AND ARE REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS AND HAVE TO BE SO FAR FROM SCHOOL??? AND THEY END UP REPEATING THE SAME CRIME AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN, AND THEY STILL DONT GET LIFE IN PRISON. THIS LADY WAS DRUNK, WHICH MEANS SHE WAS NOT IN HER RIGHT STATE OF MIND, AND MAKES A LITTLE MISTAKE AND HAS TO GO TO PRISON FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE?? WHAT IS THIS COUNTRY COMING TO. THIS KINDA OF STUFF MAKES ME NOT TRUST OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM. THIS IS THE USA AND PEOPLE ARE GOING TO PRISON FOR LIFE FOR KISSING AND TOUCHING SOMEONE??? THIS JUST DONT MAKE ANY SENSE?????? AND YET WE HAVE MURDERERS, RAPIST, CHILD MOLESTERS, DRUG DEALERS, THIEVES. AND SHE GOES TO PRISON FOR TOUCHING, HA THIS IS HILARIOUS!!!!

  11. Love everyone’s comments here, but to Nate K., specifically: My post would have been exactly yours, but you did the heavy lifting, and thus negated my need to do so, so thanks for that.

    I have OFTEN thought of leaving the country, and have seriously looked into these matters.

    First I thought New Zealand, which I would leap at in a second, but husband thinks it’s just way too far out in the left field.

    Canada is certainly an option, not only because most of my cousins live there, but because one of my cousins is a leading immigration lawyer in Canada (wrote the seminal textbook on immigration law, so he can certainly help us to establish legal residency).

    France ranks very nearly at the top because I speak French rather well and love France’s culture. France has its own problems, like every country, but they’re not puritanical the way the U.S. is (case in point, this situation here with the woman and the boy).

    I mean, okay, okay, she was a naughty girl — I think we all appreciate that. Had I been the judge in that case, AND had the authority to rule in this way, I would’ve sent her off to mandated counseling and a little public service. End of story.

  12. I do think that some mandatory minimum sentences are appropriate, but this case it is clearly a miscarriage of justice.

    As someone else wisely pointed out there are serious repeat sex offenders that rape children and get 18 months-3 years! I know, I use to work in the prison system. That is just insane!

    Yeah, she is a crack pot, and no being drunk is not a defense under the law because she consumed the alcohol willingly, therefore taking responsibility for any of her actions while under the influence, but this is a serious, serious travesty of justice!

    To answer someone else’s question she could try to file an appeal based on poor attorney representation because any public defender with a half a brain would have told her to accept a plea or plead guilty to a lessor charge. The defendant claims none was offered, but all that should be a matter of written court record. I also did not see the trial perhaps there were mistakes made through out it that would allow her to file an appeal based on that. I do think that based on public outcry and the injustice of it all she will probably get some form of relief through the courts somehow.

    And while this may be off topic, I am SO freakin sick of Americans that say that this country is so bad that they want to go live somewhere else! Do us ALL a favor and go, because your type of verbal treason is inappropriate and unacceptable. Our justice system is far from perfect, but it’s the best one out there and the men and women that bust their humps to make it as safe for us as possible don’t need to hear your trash talking, and bad mouthing. I’m quite sure if you grew up in another country not nearly as great as the one we live in you might think twice about talking trash about THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!!!!

    God Bless America, and all the idiots in it too!

  13. just another example of our screwed up justic system made up by lawyers who control the country and should be put out of business but how to do it???? BUTCH THE BUTCHER HAD ONE GOOD IDEA “FIRST WE’LL KILL ALL THE LAWYERS” NOT POSSIBLR BUT A DREAM START. CHEERS PETER ALLEN ANOTHER DREAM, WISH THERE WERE CITIZENS OVERSIGHT BOARDS TO OVERRULE IDIOTIC DECISIONS IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM.

  14. lets just give her counsling so she can be done with it and go molest someone elses kids no big deal who cares its just child molestation. you people are stupid. i hope she dies in prison. If you dont like the legal system move out of the country im sure theres a place somewhere that doesnt punish people for breaking the law. you bunch of morons.

  15. Mandatory minimums are wrong in all areas of law. No matter what the crime is, no two people are exactly alike, and no two situations are exactly alike. This “one size fits all policy” goes against the judicial system we pride ourselves on, where individuality matters. I am glad I have not been involved in a criminal case, but during my divorce I had a lot of issues my attorney ( Eric Roy ) thankfully took care of it.

  16. Yeah but you go up to Idaho and a kid has sex with a kid and they go to jail while a stepfather rapes his stepdaughter when her mother knows and does nothing and they were bot
    h free the week after that and visiting the child.

  17. How sad, back in 1958 when I was 13 I can only dream of a woman grabbing my hand and put it down her blouse. My dream didn’t come through until three years later, when I was 16. ;-)

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