Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Tina M. Zottoli

Committee Member

Tarika Daftary-Kapur

Committee Member

Jason Dickinson

Committee Member

Vanessa Edkins


Little research has been done on the guilty plea experiences of individuals charged with sex crimes. Persons convicted of sex crimes face unique legal and extralegal consequences, and often experience social stigma. I interviewed 60 males charged with sex crimes who have accepted a guilty plea on their decision making. I report contextual data of their guilty plea experiences, as well as their rationales for pleading guilty, including whether concerns over stigma and collateral consequences influenced their decision making. For most participants, primary rationales for pleading guilty were reduced time or charges, consistent with the most common reasons given by criminal defendants generally. Although all participants experienced collateral consequences, and most some form of stigmatization, following conviction, relatively few reported having considered either factor at the time of their plea decisions. However, many participants had only a rudimentary understanding of collateral consequences at the time they pleaded guilty, and respondents who expressed regret for their plea decisions were least likely to have had adequate knowledge of consequences. Results are discussed in light of procedural justice theory and implications for future research.

File Format


Available for download on Saturday, July 05, 2025