Oct 052016

California Governor Jerry Brown

Governor Jerry Brown has signed many new bills and amendments to existing laws, recently. Among them are three pertaining to rape. One of them changes, one expands and one modifies existing California rape law.

Senate Bill No. 813: NO Limitation Statute In Rape Cases In California
A rape is s rape whether it took place yesterday or 25 years ago. In a rape case, the perpetrator may not be easy to identify, find or prosecute (think of Bill Cosby!) while the rape victim / survivor is effectively sentenced to a life with a trauma. Rape charges and / or prosecution of a rapist however have a 10 year limitation statute. Now, thanks to Governor Brown – at least in California – rape survivors will be able to pursue and get justice without time limitations.
“This bill would allow the prosecution of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration, that are committed under certain circumstances, as specified, to be commenced at any time. The bill would apply to these crimes committed after January 1, 2017, and to crimes for which the statute of limitations that was in effect prior to January 1, 2017, has not run as of January 1, 2017.” Read full text of the new law

Assembly Bill 701: Expanded Definition Of Rape
Expanding the legal definition of rape will allow / facilitate the prosecution of a wider range of sex crimes as well as increase sentences for sex offenders. The new bill states that in California “all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault may be considered rape”. Rightfully so, any type of sexual assault is rape. Read full text of the new law

Assembly Bill 2888: Harsher Sentencing Guidelines For Rape Of Victims Incapable Of Giving Consent
This bill clearly aims at preventing lenient sentences for rape of unconscious or otherwise incapacitated victims. If you recall the recent case of California’s rapist Brock Turner, you may remember that the law recommended up to 14 year prison sentence; prosecutors called for 6 years and yet, Turner (thanks to the judge’s way too lenient recommendation!) was released from jail after only 3 months!
“This bill would prohibit a court from granting probation or suspending the execution or imposition of a sentence if a person is convicted of rape, sodomy, penetration with a foreign object, or oral copulation if the victim was either unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication.” Read full text of the new law

Some people still believe that rape is “only” a sex crime. It isn’t. It’s a crime of violence, it asserts the perpetrator’s domination over the victim by force. In this aspect, rape is no different than murder or armed robbery, all three involve assault.

From now on (well, starting in January 2017) in California rapists will be prosecuted like all other violent criminals. No more excuses (no statute of limitation); no more lenient sentences (mandatory sentencing); no brakes on technicalities with the newly expanded definition of rape.

Rape is the most degrading and humiliating of crimes. Until now so was the judicial process: it often demeaned rape survivors more than the rapists. No wonder the majority of rape cases are not reported. The new legislation changes the power differential between rape victims and rape perpetrators in California’s court system. It is likely to encourage more reporting and – let’s hope! – prevent rapes.

In 2016 Governor Brown and California Legislature took a stand on behalf of rape victims and survivors. From now on, with no statute of limitation on rape charges; the definition of rape expanded to include all forms of rape and with rape victim’s incapacity to give consent no longer held against the rape victim but the rape perpetrator, there is new hope for justice for rape victims. The new Bills empower – restore dignity to – rape victims.

The three recently passed Bills change the legal landscape of rape law. Hopefully, they’ll serve as inspiration and models for change of national rape law.

The new legislative acts pertaining to rape are sure to contribute to Governor Jerry Brown’s legacy. By declaring allegiance to victims’ rights and – dare I say? – women, the Governor pioneered new approach to justice for rape victims and made ALL Californians proud.



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