Do Sex Crime Cases Typically Involve Strangers Or Acquaintances?
It’s typically 50/50. There have been cases where people were friends, and the girl said, “I got so drunk that I never would have consented to it, but I brought the booze, and he invited me to sleep over.” His defense is, “She’s my best friend, and yes, I’ve kissed her before.” Then she winds up charging him with rape after she wakes up and he’s on top of her and inside of her, and she tells him to get off, and he does. When she’s up on the stand, the attorney says, “I understand you guys were friends, and you were sleeping together. That’s fine. Did you at any time, before you woke up and realized he was inside of you, tell him no, that you’re not having sex? Did that even come up?” Her response is, “No, it didn’t. I didn’t tell him no.”
They were both shaken up and crying about it at the time that it happened. This wasn’t your typical rape, obviously, but the scary part was that they had to go to a jury trial because due to the political environment, judges have to look at the merits of the case, and in this case, there were considerations over and above a standard rape case.
They charged this guy with rape, and she was one of his best friends, and he would never rape her. She thought the same thing. But he was charged, and the state offered him probation on a lesser offense, which would still be criminal sexual abuse, and the guy would have to be on probation and register for 10 years or maybe even life as a sex offender. The defendant said, “I know I’m rolling the dice on going to prison: it’s a mandatory six years, but I didn’t do it. Yes, I had sex with her; yes, she’s my friend. The minute she said stop, I stopped. I don’t understand what she’s talking about. There was never a conversation. We were kissing each other. I was grabbing her, she was grabbing me: it happened.” It wasn’t by force, it wasn’t by trickery, and that’s what the jury found, that he wasn’t guilty of rape.
The fellow ultimately had two choices when he was initially charged: he could go to trial and lose, which would involve a prison sentence of six to 30 years for something he didn’t do. Or he could’ve taken a plea, by admitting something that he didn’t do. There is a special kind of plea that’s allowed in these cases. It’s called an Alford plea, and it’s pursuant to People vs. Alford, but the gist of it is there is a horrible crime that you’re charged with, and you’re offered a plea to a lesser crime, but you are maintaining you still didn’t do it. Under this Alford case, you can say, “I want to take the benefit of the bargain. I want to take the probation. I don’t want to risk going to prison, but I’m still pleading not guilty; however, I know what the state’s witnesses have to say is what they are going to say. I’m not saying that I agree with them, but that’s what they are going to say, and I realize, based on that, I could be found guilty, so therefore I am weighing my options.”
Let’s say it was a murder, and they want you to plea to disorderly conduct, and you weren’t even there. But you think, “I’ll take the benefit of just not having this hanging over my head. I’ll plea to disorderly conduct, which means nothing to me, so I don’t have this murder charge.” That’s an extreme example, but this rape case was real. They wanted him to be on probation, as a sex offender, for something he didn’t do.
If he went to trial and lost, he was going to prison, and his life would be ruined. You get some very difficult decisions, and any time these sex cases are his word against her word, they’re very tough cases on both sides because there could be all kinds of factors that people don’t want to consider so much because of alcohol or drug consumption. There could be other motives, such as someone trying to get another person in trouble. Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman.
You’re going to have someone you screwed over, and they’ll make something up. There have been cases where people have made stuff up, and they later come in and say they made it up because they wanted to get them in trouble. They knew nothing had happened, and they didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. Those things happen. Those are very difficult areas sometimes when the state offers probation, and the guy is still insisting he didn’t do it.
But that Alford plea is one way out, where the judge can let you take the benefit of the bargain, by saying, “I understand you’re not pleading guilty. I also understand you realize you could be found guilty, and that’s why you’re letting me find you guilty. Even though you’re pleading not guilty, you understand I’m going to find you guilty.” The defendant is going to say yes. So there’s no question of the outcome; it’s just a matter of did the person admit guilt or not.
For some things it may make a difference; for some things it may not. So it depends on who’s looking at it later in life, determining if they’re going to punish the person for what happened. They can say, “Okay, he pled not guilty and maintained his innocence, and he took the benefit of the bargain.” But other people might say, “Well, I still think he did it.” Those are a lot of different scenarios that come up, and a lot of them are not easy to deal with.
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