California legislators were busy in the days leading up to the Labor Day holiday sending bills to the state's governor, Jerry Brown, that would impact those accused of sexual assault crimes. We recently discussed one bill, which would remove the state's statute of limitations on those crimes. That bill, as we noted, was inspired, at least in part, by the numerous sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby.
Sentence of Stanford Student Prompted Outrage
Another bill, which would impact the sentencing of those convicted of sexual assault, was inspired by another well-known case. Brock Turner, a Stanford University student and member of the swim team, was convicted of felony sexual assault. The six-month sentence handed down by the judge in that case prompted outrage throughout the state and nationwide. Efforts to recall the judge are continuing, even though he's said that he'll no longer preside over criminal cases.
Turner could have been subject to a 14-year sentence based on the three counts on which he was convicted. Prosecutors had sought six years. He actually served just three months of his sentence. Just days after the bill passed, he was freed due to "good behavior." The proposed legislation's three primary sponsors are all representatives from Northern California, where Stanford is located.
Prison Would Be Mandatory Under New Law
The bill, if signed into law, would require judges to adhere to certain restrictions in sentencing those convicted of sexual assault. For one thing, they cannot receive a sentence of probation.
It also addresses situations like the Turner case and many other sexual assault cases, where the victim was extremely intoxicated or unconscious. Currently in California, a person convicted of sexual assault isn't mandated to receive a prison sentence unless force was used. The law would require that anyone convicted of sexual assault receive a prison sentence, because force may not have been necessary with victims who were incapacitated. One assemblyman said, "Current law actually incentivizes rapists to get their victims intoxicated before assaulting them."
If the law passes, it will be more crucial than ever that anyone who is charged with a sexual assault crime in California seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A conviction will mean time behind bars.
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