Jed D. Manton

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In Dixon v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court analyzed Georgia's statutory scheme to protect children from sexual exploitation. A jury convicted Marcus Dixon of statutory rape and aggravated child molestation, for which he received the mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years to serve ten. The Georgia Supreme Court reversed Dixon's conviction for aggravated child molestation. As a result of the reversal, Dixon was released from prison because he had already served the requirements for his statutory rape conviction. The majority and concurring opinion urged the Legislature to clarify Georgia's statutes to expressly distinguish statutory rape from child molestation. The dissenting opinions argued that "no legal justification whatsoever" existed for the reversal of Dixon's conviction, and a once clear statutory scheme to protect children from exploitation was clouded by the majority. This Note argues that future courts will not hold the Dixon opinion expanded the scope of the rule of lenity because either: (1) the use of the rule of lenity was dicta, or (2) the rule of lenity, as used in Dixon, only applies to situations where the Legislature clearly intended for misdemeanor punishment to apply.