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June 30, 2021

BILL COSBY SEXUAL ASSAULT CONVICTION REVERSED BY PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT: WHAT THIS MAY MEAN FOR FUTURE SEX CRIME PROSECUTIONS IN CALIFORNIA

Bill Cosby was accused of sexual assault of a woman in Pennsylvania. At his first trial, the court permitted one woman to testify about prior sexual allegations against Mr. Cosby. The first trial ended in a hung jury because the jury was divided as to Mr. Cosby’s guilt. However, the prosecutor decided to try Cosby again at a second trial. At the second trial, the judge allowed five witnesses to testify as to Cosby allegedly being sexually inappropriate with each of them.  Likely due to this extremely damaging evidence permitted at his second trial, the second jury found Cosby guilty. 

The judge sentenced Cosby to ten years in prison. He continues to deny the charges and remains in prison. He has vowed to serve the entire ten years if the parole department continues to  insist on him admitting his guilt and expressing remorse in order to be granted an earlier parole date. 

In a sexual assault case, it is often the word of the alleged victim vs. the accused. When a court allows other witnesses to testify to “alleged sexual misconduct” by the accused, it often “tilts” the scales in favor of the prosecution and it is much more likely that the defendant will be found guilty of the charges. The Pennsylvania Bill Cosby Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Orange County California Wallin & KlarichSupreme Court reversed Cosby’s conviction and found it unfair to have him defend against so many other unproven and unprosecuted charges by these other women. The question is what impact might this have on sex crime prosecutions in California?  Cosby was in fact,  the first celebrity tried and convicted in the #MeToo era. Will the reversal of Cosby’s conviction make prosecutors hesitant to call to testify other accusers in sex crime cases?

How Does the Reversal of Bill Cosby’s Conviction Impact Future Sex Crime Prosecitions in California?

In California, we have a law that states that the prosecution can introduce witnesses to testify in a sexual assault or child molestation case in order to show that the accused has a “pattern” of committing sexual assault or child molestation. This can bolster the credibility of the alleged victim in the case before the court. Often, in these types of cases, it is the word of the alleged victim vs. the word of the accused. These types of crimes almost always occur when nobody else is around other than the alleged victim and the accused.  

California Evidence Code Section 1108 states as follows: 

“(a) In a criminal action in which the defendant is accused of a sexual offense, evidence of the defendant’s commission of another sexual offense or offenses is not made inadmissible by Section 1101 , if the evidence is not inadmissible pursuant to Section 352 .

(b) In an action in which evidence is to be offered under this section, the people shall disclose the evidence to the defendant, including statements of witnesses or a summary of the substance of any testimony that is expected to be offered in compliance with the requirements of Section 1054.7 of the Penal Code .

(c) This section does not limit the admission or consideration of evidence under any other section of this code.

(d) As used in this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) “Sexual offense” means a crime under the law of a state or of the United States that involved any of the following:

(A) Any conduct proscribed by subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 236.1, Section 243.4, 261, 261.5, 262, 264.1, 266c, 269, 286, 287, 288, 288.2, 288.5, or 289, or subdivision (b), (c), or (d) of Section 311.2 or Section 311.3, 311.4, 311.10, 311.11, 314, or 647.6 of, or former Section 288a of, the Penal Code.

(B) Any conduct proscribed by Section 220 of the Penal Code , except assault with intent to commit mayhem.

(C) Contact, without consent, between any part of the defendant’s body or an object and the genitals or anus of another person.

(D) Contact, without consent, between the genitals or anus of the defendant and any part of another person’s body.

(E) Deriving sexual pleasure or gratification from the infliction of death, bodily injury, or physical pain on another person.

(F) An attempt or conspiracy to engage in conduct described in this paragraph.

(2) “Consent” shall have the same meaning as provided in Section 261.6 of the Penal Code , except that it does not include consent which is legally ineffective because of the age, mental disorder, or developmental or physical disability of the victim.”

What this means is that prior uncharged acts can be introduced by the prosecution to show that the defendant has a propensity to commit sexual acts similar to the sexual act for which he is on trial. However, there is an important limitation. This limitation is found in Evidence Code Section 352 which states as follows:

“The court in its discretion may exclude evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the probability that its admission will (a) necessitate undue consumption of time or (b) create substantial danger of undue prejudice, of confusing the issues, or of misleading the jury.”

Why You or A Loved One Needs An Experienced Sex Crime Defense Lawyer

When a person is accused of a sex crime in California, your sex crime defense lawyer must be very familiar with Evidence Code Section 352. This law may be the only way to attempt to keep witnesses from testifying that the accused allegedly sexually assaulted them in the past. That type of evidence can be enough to lead to a conviction for a sex crime that can land the accused in prison for decades. 

An experienced sex crime attorney can argue to the court that the uncharged acts alleged are “too remote in time” to the date of the charged offense.

They can also argue that the uncharged act is “different in nature” to the charged crime. Child molestation defense lawyers can argue that to call several other witnesses will be too time consuming and lengthen the trial by many days or even weeks. Finally, an experienced child molestation attorney can argue that calling several witnesses to “uncharged acts” will confuse and mislead the jury.

Ultimately it will be the judge that will decide if witnesses will be allowed to testify that they were allegedly molested or sexually assaulted by the defendant.

In most cases, if that type of evidence is admitted by the court, it will make it much more difficult for an accused to avoid a conviction.

 Contact an Experienced Wallin & Klarich Sex Crimes Attorney Today

If you or someone you love is accused of a sex crime charge or child molestation in California you must understand that having a highly experienced sex crime defense lawyer fighting for you or your loved one  can make the difference between the defendant serving decades in prison or walking free. These cases are extremely complicated and every decision made by your  sex crime lawyer  must take many important legal concepts into consideration.

 

Author:Stephen D. Klarich

Stephen D. Klarich is one of the most highly respected sex crime attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Klarich a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Klarich founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Klarich has been successfully representing clients for more than 38 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors, felonies and other sex crimes. View all posts by Stephen D. Klarich.

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