Jury Finds Cosby Guilty of Sexual Assault
Earlier this week a Pennsylvania jury was finally able to come to a unanimous decision about the criminal allegations against Bill Cosby. After escaping conviction in a first trial, Cosby was finally found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. The jury did not take long to decide Cosby’s fate. Instead, they returned the verdict on their second day of deliberations.
Sexual Assault Trials in Light of #MeToo
Cosby’s first criminal trial for sexual assault in Montgomery County, PA resulted in a hung jury. As a result, the judge declared a mistrial and it was as if the trial had never happened in the first place. After a mistrial, the state has the option to (a) walk away and let the defendant go free or (b) retry the case in front of a new jury. Since Cosby’s case was taking place in the middle of the #MeToo movement, when the outrage surrounding sexual misconduct is at an all-time high, the state did not hesitate to seek a new trial.
Cosby’s case was based on allegations of sexual assault made by a Temple University employee, where Cosby had graduated and subsequently become a board member. Specifically, the woman alleged that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulting her 14 years ago. Cosby had been followed by whispers of sexual assault and misconduct for years, but the floodgates opened once the Temple University employee spoke out. Since then, 60 women have come forward and revealed their own traumatic experiences with Cosby. Some of these women even testified in support of the victim at Cosby’s Pennsylvania criminal trial.
Aggravated Indecent Assault
Cosby was charged with three counts of “aggravated indecent assault” in Pennsylvania. What exactly does that mean? Aggravated indecent assault, as defined in Pennsylvania law, occurs when a person engages in penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus of another person and:
- Without the consent of the victim
- Using force, or the threat of force, to compel the victim to participate
- Subduing a victim to commit the act
- When the victim is unconscious or unaware of the activity
- When the victim is under the age of 13
- When the victim is under the age of 16, and the defendant is at least 4 years older, or
- When the victim has a mental defect or disability that prevents them from giving consent.
What would Cosby likely be charged with if he had committed this crime in San Diego? First, it is important to know the specific actions that led to the criminal charges. Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually penetrating his victim with his fingers. In California, this behavior would be classified as forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object.
In California, rape is defined in Penal Code Section 289 PC to mean “ an act of sexual penetration when the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury.” Section (d) of Penal Code 289 also explicitly states that it is a crime to penetrate another person if the defendant knows or should know that are unconscious.
Penalty for Sexual Assault
In Pennsylvania, the maximum penalty for aggravated indecent assault is 10 years in prison. Since Cosby was convicted on three different counts, he faces the maximum penalty for each individual count. In California, forcible sexual penetration is punishable by 3, 6, or 8 years in a state prison.
Sex Offender Status
In addition to time behind bars, those convicted of sexual assault will also be required to register as a sex offender. Each state has different laws concerning how and when defendants convicted of sex crimes must register as a sex offender. In both Pennsylvania and California, a finding of guilt on charges of rape can automatically require registering as a sex offender for life.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorneys
Bill Cosby’s defense was handled by attorneys who are intimately familiar with Pennsylvania state sex crime laws. He likely chose these attorneys because of their reputation and success in defending clients against similar allegations. If you are facing criminal charges in San Diego, it is equally as important for you to hire an attorney who can help you secure the best outcome in your case. Call the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC to schedule a free consultation with our San Diego criminal defense attorneys. We will review your case and answer any questions that you may have.