Weinstein Could Face Criminal Charges for Alleged California Rape

Harvey Weinstein is the latest Hollywood heavyweight to be accused of sexually-unacceptable behavior. Stories told by dozens of female celebrities and Hollywood insiders have shaken the nation. Some accusations in these stories recall seemingly minor incidents of sexual harassment, while other stories paint a darker image. At least 5 women have accused Weinstein of rape. Many people have asked if Weinstein will face any jail time for these alleged sex crimes. The success or failure of these claims will depend on a few things, with one of the most important factors being when these alleged rapes occurred.

Statute of Limitations on Crimes of Sexual Assault in California

Before last year, prosecutors in California had a limited amount of time to file charges for crimes of rape. This period is known as the statute of limitations. Absent any aggravating circumstances, prosecutors were required to bring charges for rape within ten years of the incident. This meant that California prosecutors had ten years from the date of an alleged rape to:

  1. Identify a suspect;
  2. Gather evidence sufficient to arrest and charge them with the crime; and
  3. Formally file charges for sexual assault against that suspect.

Failing to file charges for rape within that ten-year window would be disastrous. Prosecutors would be prohibited from charging a suspect with rape in the future. This was true even if new information or evidence came to light.

California Eliminates Statute of Limitations for Rape Cases

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed a piece of legislation that effectively eliminates the statute of limitations for the crime of rape. The bill, which flew through the California legislature very quickly, was proposed in response to issues with Bill Cosby. As you may know, several women report having been sexually assaulted by Cosby. Unfortunately, many of the alleged attacks occurred decades ago. This meant that the statute of limitations of ten years had expired long ago. As a result, Cosby could not be tried for many of these alleged crimes.

The California state legislature did not like the fact that a serial sexual assaulter would not have to stand trial for his alleged crimes. They introduced legislation to eliminate the statute of limitations for the crime of rape. This would encourage victims to come forward and not punish them for remaining silent. Eliminating the statute of limitations would also allow cases to move forward if evidence were uncovered after that ten-year period.

Statute of Limitation Still Exists For Some Crimes of Rape

The new California legislation is not retroactive. This means that it does not apply to acts of rape or sexual assault that occurred before the law became effective. The important date to remember is January 1, 2017. The ten-year statute of limitations will apply to any rape that occurred before January 1, 2017. There will be no statute of limitation for acts of rape that occur on or after January 1, 2017. This is important. The date on which the alleged rape occurred will be the deciding factor for how long California has to file formal charges.

Weinstein Could Face Criminal Rape Charges in California

Many of the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein happened long ago. If the statute of limitations has run, Weinstein may be able to avoid criminal charges for those acts. At least one of Weinstein’s accusers reports having been the victim of sexual assault within the last 10 years. Italian actress and model reports that she was raped by Weinstein at a Los Angeles hotel in 2013.

If the allegation is true, Weinstein could face criminal charges for rape in California. This is because the alleged rape occurred less than ten years ago. Remember, since the alleged rape happened before January 1, 2017, the ten-year statute of limitations still applies. Here, California prosecutors have at least five more years to file charges against Weinstein.

Penalties for Rape in California

Rape is a serious crime in California. The law prohibits unwanted/forced sexual intercourse with another person without consent. Violating someone in this way comes with serious consequences. If Weinstein does face criminal charges for rape, he could potentially be sentenced to 3, 6, or 8 years in a California prison. He could also be required to pay fines of up to $25,000. As a convicted rapist, Weinstein would also be required to register as a sex offender. This is one of the most serious consequences of a conviction. It is impossible to live a normal life once you are a registered sex offender. The label will stay with you forever. If you’re facing charges for rape or any other sex crime, call criminal lawyer Vikas Bajaj today for an initial consultation.


Sex Crimes