Here's How The Stanford Rape Changed California's Rape Laws
2 new bills are changing rape in California
In the months after national outrage over the six-month sentence for sexual assault given to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, conversation about light sentences for sexual assaults have blown up across the country. Yesterday, spurred by the backlash that came after Turner's sentencing, California Governor Jerry Brown expanded California's definition of rape and broadened mandatory-minimum sentences for sexual assaults.
The two measures (Assembly Bills 701 and 2888) were approved by state legislators as part of a greater push to reform California' handling of sex-related crimes in it's criminal code.
Here's what you need to know about the new measures:
AB 2888 takes probation as an option off of the table for offenders whose victims are intoxicated or unconscious. AB 701 broadens the state's definition of rape beyond the use or threat of physical force.
Brock Turner's conviction should have been a reminder to you that judge's get to apply lesser and greater sentences based on their own discretion.Turner was found guilty on three counts of sexual assault this past March for raping an unconscious woman on Stanford's campus in 2015 after they had both attended a party together. Turner who faced a maximum of 14 years in prison and received a recommended six years from prosecutors got off with a 6 month prison sentence and 3 year probation period by Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. Under current law, convicted rapists who use additional physical force have to serve prison time. Turner and offenders like him, who are convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious or incapable victim of giving consent because of intoxication, benefit from this "discretion".
While rape has previously been defined as "an act of sexual intercourse" without consent, under conditions of force, duress or lack of consent, it hasn't been until recently that courts have recognized it can take on other forms as well-- that sexual assault, such as digital penetration or penetration by a foreign object have been categorized as rape as well.
Governor Jerry Brown announced in a statement that he had signed the two measures into law though having opposed adding new mandatory-minimum sentences in general. Brown noted that this particular case justified his support for AB 2888 because it would bring "a measure of parity to sentencing for criminal acts that are substantially similar."
The changes sadly came the same day that a rape was reported on Stanford's campus.