Mandatory Minimums for Campus Rape Could Come to California
According to Reason.com, California state legislators are considering a new bill which would impose a two-year mandatory school suspension for any student convicted of a sexual assault by a campus disciplinary hearing. Das Williams (D) introduced the first-of-its-kind bill to address concerns that the state’s academic institutions are not taking on-campus sexually-based assault seriously enough. Currently, 11 universities and colleges in California are under federal Title IX investigations for the way they have handed previous sexual misconduct cases. The proposed bill would affect all of California’s private and public institutes of higher learning accepting government-funded financial assistance for their students.
William’s bill comes on the heels of the “only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’” affirmative response sexual consent legislation passed in 2014. The 2014 law requires “ongoing, enthusiastic, affirmative consent” throughout a sexual encounter, without the need of accuser to outright verbally refuse sexual activity. The affirmative response sexual consent law has been highly criticized for being impractical, and for switching the burden of proof from the accuser, to the accused.
While a school suspension may seem to be an inadequate punishment for a sexual crime, the proposed bill, combined with the affirmative response sexual consent legislation, may lead to punishment for activities which are considered legal outside of an academic setting. Opponents of the bill claim imposing mandatory minimums for all cases is inappropriate, and suggest any accusation of a sexual assault should be handled by the police and the court system, instead of campus security and the institution’s disciplinary board.
Even supporters of stricter on-campus sexual assault guidelines have their own doubts about the proposed bill.
- Daniel Carter, who works with victims of sexual crime through the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, thinks passing the bill may reduce the number of reported sex crimes on campus. Carter feels William’s bill is well-intended, but fails to take into consideration the complexities of campus sexual assault, along with the mindset of many rape victims. He believes the first concern of lawmakers and educational institutions needs to be the welfare of the victims.
The slippery slope of defining a sex crime can affect even well-intended individuals. If you find yourself accused of sexual misconduct, you need to speak with a California criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf has been defending the rights of the accused for over 40 years. Call now at (310) 277-1707, or go to our website.