Bill Cosby is being charged with aggravated sexual assault in Pennsylvania, after being accused of drugging and assaulting a Temple University employee in 2004. More than 50 women have come forward recently with accusations that Cosby raped them.
In the wake of this, police departments around the country are reporting a rise in rape and sexual assault allegations, many of which involve years-old cases. In New York City, Police Chief William Bratton said the number of reported sexual assault cases increased from 1,352 reports to 1,439. The NYPD Chief stated that as many as 20 percent of the cases reported in 2015 happened in years past.1
Chicago saw an increase of 64 cases between 2014 and 2015. Los Angeles reported an even larger increase, with 199 more cases reported in 2015 over the prior year.
Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women’s Law Project, believes that the stand that Cosby’s accusers are taking may be driving others to come forward with rape allegations. “There is strength in numbers,” Tracy said. “More women now are showing their faces, sharing their names and saying, ‘I was violated.’ They see they have the right to come forward.”2
With the increase in sexual assault accusations, it is now more important than ever to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney before you are charged with rape.
An Underreported Crime
Why are sexual assault victims often so reluctant to come forward? Sexual assault can occur in many forms, ranging from less serious offenses such as harassment to more serious offenses like rape. Many of the victims of the less serious crimes never report them, and many of the victims of more serious attacks do not come forward until weeks or months later, if ever.
Additionally, some victims of rape feel ashamed and confused after the incident. Many victims fail to come forward either out of guilt for having been attacked, or because they do not fully remember that they were attacked.
Can an Old Crime Still Be Prosecuted?
Cosby’s accusers give accounts of attacks in multiple states, including Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania and California, and many of them occurring between 1965 and 1990. Most states have statutes of limitations on filing sexual assault charges that prevent bringing charges on someone after a certain period of time has passed. In California, rape prosecution must commence within 10 years of the alleged offense. However, there are a couple of exceptions to that rule.
First, Penal Code section 799 states that if the charge carries a potential life sentence, there is no statute of limitations and the crime can be prosecuted at any time. In the case of rape, the crime has to be “aggravated” to carry a potential life sentence, meaning that the rape is conducted by force or violence (including threats against the victim’s loved ones), or fit a number of other possible conditions under Penal Code section 269.
The other exception is the rule regarding DNA identification of the rapist. Under Penal Code section 803, if a DNA test can conclusively prove the identity of a rapist, prosecution can take place within one year of the discovery, even if it occurs after the normal 10-year period has expired.
Contact the Rape Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you believe a person may accuse you of rape for an incident that happened in the past, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending our clients facing rape charges in California for over 30 years. We can help you fight the allegations against you.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1 Danielle Paquette, “New York is experiencing the ‘Cosby Effect,’ and it’s a good thing,” The Washington Post, January 7, 2016, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/07/new-york-is-experiencing-the-cosby-effect-and-its-a-good-thing/.
1 Danielle Paquette, “New York is experiencing the ‘Cosby Effect,’ and it’s a good thing,” The Washington Post, January 7, 2016, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/07/new-york-is-experiencing-the-cosby-effect-and-its-a-good-thing/.href=”#ref1″>↩
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