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Sexual assault law gives harsher punishments

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that lengthen the prison sentences for those who are convicted of sexual assault. The two laws, which came about as a response to the results of Brock Turner's rape case, end the ability for those convicted of sexually assaulting unconscious individuals from seeking short prison sentences.

Turner, a former Sanford University swimmer who was accused of assaulting an unconscious woman, was released from a three-month prison sentence in September. Prosecutors had argued for a prison sentence of six years but the judge in the case argued that this was too long due to the swimmer's clean record and youth.

One of the bills removes the judge's ability to choose the punishment based on discretion. While there has been support for the signing of this bill, dozens of groups working to end sexual assaults on school campuses are said to fear that the laws would likely be applied to lower-income and minority defendants versus white defendants. Additionally, the more severe minimum sentences may deter some victims for reporting incidents or pressing charges, especially if the attackers are people they know.

When people ae accused of rape or sexual assault of a person who is unconscious, the punishments that they may face include a lengthy prison sentence followed by probation. A criminal law attorney may assist with creating a strong defense especially if the evidence against them is weak. In some cases, the attorney may attempt to prove that they could not have been involved in the sexual assault or that they were misidentified by the person who was allegedly sexually assaulted.

Source: Fox 2, "California governor signs sex crime bill tied to Stanford case", Associated Press, Oct. 3, 2016

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