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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Assembly Bill 2888 Mandatory Minimum Legislation

rape
It is an unfortunate reality, that many rape victims do not come forward to authorities about the tragedy they have experienced. There are a number of reasons why the victims of sexual assault choose to be mute about what befell them, but some of the most common reasons are shame, guilt and the fact that sex crimes are extremely difficult to prove. Offenders are often acquitted or receive light sentences, scantily matching the crime.

A couple weeks ago, we wrote about the case of Brock Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer who was given an extremely light sentence for the sexual assault of a fellow student. After being found guilty of three felony charges, the presiding Judge Aaron Persky gave Brock six months in jail and three-years of probation. As to be expected, millions of Americans were left scratching their heads, some of which were calling for a judicial review.

As we talked about previously, the reason behind the “slap on the wrist” rested on a loophole in how California defines rape. This prompted emergency legislation to be put forward, broadening the scope of rape. Last week, Assembly Bill 2888, was introduced by Democratic Assemblymen Evan Low and Bill Dodd and co-sponsored by Democratic State Senator Jerry Hill (supported by Santa Clara County's District Attorney Jeff Rosen), which would place a mandatory minimum sentence of three years for similar crimes in the future, NBC News reports.

"We need to change the law to protect the next Emily Doe from the next Brock Turner," said Rosen. "Let's give the next campus sexual assault victim no reason to fear that her attacker will end up walking around free after spending less time in jail than it takes to finish a single college semester." 

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject below:


If you are having trouble watching the video please click here.

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

California's Original Night Stalker

FBI
California isn’t a stranger to heinous crimes, being host to some the country's most notorious serial killers. For those who were living in the state from the late 1960’s on, infamous names like Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez a.k.a. the ‘Night Stalker’ and Angelo Anthony Buono Jr. a.k.a. the 'Hillside Strangler' probably come to mind—especially if you lived in Southern California during their deadly tenure.

While the aforementioned killers were ultimately apprehended by authorities and sentenced for their insidious crimes, there were some who managed to evade capture and are possibly alive today. Few can forget the deadly reign of the “Zodiac Killer” who would send cryptograms to the Bay area press over the course of his killing spree in late 1960s and early 1970s. Another case of interest that went unsolved has come back into the spotlight recently.

Last week, now 40 years since the beginning of a murderous binge that lasted a decade. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reopened the case of California’s “Original Night Stalker,” The Orange County Register reports. Between 1976 to 1986, a man traveled the state murdering as many as 12 people and raping 45. The murdering rapist committed a number of attacks in the Orange County area from 1980 to 1986.

“We wanted to put this out, tickle the memories of individuals and see if they recall anything,” said FBI spokeswoman Gina Swankie. “We don’t want someone to feel they’re giving us erroneous information if they say … they had a neighbor who fit the profile. We can still research that individual. There’s a known DNA sample, so it’s easy to exonerate people.” 

The agency is offering a $50,000 reward (see wanted poster here)for information that results in an arrest, according to the article. If the Golden State Killer, another one of his monikers, is still alive, he may:
  • Be 60 to 75 Years in Age
  • 5 feet 10 Inches Tall
  • Have an Athletic Build
  • Blond or Light Brown Hair
Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Redefining Rape in California

rape
For those who were following the case of the Stanford University swimmer who was charged with the sexual assault of a fellow student, it is likely that you were outraged at the sentence he received. Brock Turner was looking at a maximum of 14 years in prison for the three felony charges he was convicted of, crimes which included:
  • Assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person.
  • Sexual penetration of an unconscious person.
  • Sexual penetration of an intoxicated person.
The crimes Turner was convicted of were heinous to be sure, yet Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky handed Turner only six (6) months in county jail and three (3) years of probation, according to The Los Angeles Times. With good behavior, the former Stanford swimmer will probably only serve half of his sentence.

Citizens of California and millions across the country were surprised and are up in arms about the lenient sentence. Nearly a million Americans have signed petitions in an attempt to urge the California Commission for Judicial Performance to remove Judge Persky, the article reports. While the sentence Turner received is tragic and Persky may be called to account, the case brings into question what would appear to be outdated rape sentencing laws. Members of the California Legislature argue that the state's definition of rape is out of date.

It turns out that Turner’s light sentence was the product of how the law on rape was written, defining rape as involving human penetration, and not foreign objects. In California, the definition of rape includes "sexual intercourse"—foreign objects fall under sexual assault which carry less severe sentences.

On Monday, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) put forward a last-minute bill to widen the scope of the state's definition of rape as beyond "an act of sexual intercourse." If passed, the legislation would add "penetration" of any kind without consent to the state's definition of rape.

“We found a loophole in California’s criminal code and need to fix the law to send a strong message that we do not accept rape in California," said Assemblywoman Garcia. 

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

California Supreme Court Approves Parole Bill

parole
In the United States, we have a long history of charging, sentencing and imprisoning nonviolent offenders. Most of such cases are related to drug use, and many states across the country have mandatory minimum sentencing laws that affect low-level nonviolent drug offenders. In the wake of the opioid addiction crisis in America, both federal and state governments have been working to amend sentencing laws, which impacts millions of Americans.

California is one such state that is working to adopt changes to its tough-on-crime laws. In fact, this November, Californians may be voting on a bill that would expand parole opportunities to thousands of inmates, many of which are serving time for nonviolent offenses, The Los Angeles Times reports. Yesterday, the California Supreme Court ruled (6-1) that the measure did not violate state election law.

Interestingly, the measure which is backed by Governor Jerry Brown seeks to undue laws enacted during the governor's first tenure—almost forty years ago. The bill, if passed, would give thousands of nonviolent felons a second chance, and Governor Brown hopes that voters agree with the move, according to the article. Brown recognizes that the tough-on-crime laws enacted in the 70’s had “unintended consequences.” Under the bill:
  • Parole eligibility would be granted to offenders after serving their core sentence.
  • Prisoners would receive more time credit for good behavior.
  • Judges would be in charge of determining when minors are charged as adults.
“By allowing parole consideration if they do good things, they will then have an incentive … to show those who will be judging whether or not they're ready to go back into society,” says Brown.

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.

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