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Washington Supreme Court shifts burden in rape cases

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The Washington Supreme Court says the state cannot require rape defendants to prove, to escape conviction, that an alleged victim consented. In a 6-3 decision, the justices reversed what they described as the court’s “incorrect and harmful” earlier rulings.


Reversing what it called “incorrect and harmful” earlier rulings, the Washington Supreme Court said Thursday the state cannot put the burden on rape defendants to prove that an alleged victim consented — a decision critics said will make it harder to punish dangerous sex offenders.


The court had previously ruled that when a defendant claimed the contact was consensual, it was up to the defendant to prove there was consent by a preponderance of the evidence. The rulings essentially made consent an affirmative defense to a rape charge, the way a killer can claim self-defense in a murder case.


But in a 6-3 opinion Thursday, the justices said those decisions wrongly interpreted U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Prosecutors must prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and making a defendant prove that there was consent got that requirement backward, they said.


“Requiring a defendant to do more than raise a reasonable doubt is inconsistent with due-process principles,” Justice Debra Stephens wrote for the majority, saying it raises “a very real possibility of wrongful convictions.”


Justice Susan Owens wrote the dissent, arguing that the majority’s opinion would reverse decades of progress in the handling of rape cases.


Before 1975, she noted, rape was defined in state law as sex “committed against the person’s will and without the person’s consent.” This required prosecutors to prove that a rape victim had not consented — meaning trials often focused as much on the actions of the alleged victim as on the actions of the defendant. That discouraged victims from reporting the crimes.


The Legislature changed the definition in 1975, removing the reference to consent and requiring prosecutors to prove “forcible compulsion” — force that overcomes resistance, or threats that put a person in fear of death or injury. The intent was to put the focus back on the actions of the defendant, Owens said.


“Placing the burden on the State to disprove consent wrongfully puts the victim’s actions and reputation on trial,” she wrote. “Not only does the majority’s decision invalidate years of work undertaken to properly refocus our rape law, but it also has serious implications for victims of an already underreported type of crime.”


Emily Cordo, former legal director of the Sexual Violence Law Center in Seattle, agreed.


“You are going to have decisions from jurors based on misperceptions about how victims should behave rather than based on what the defendant did,” she said. “Washington, like every other state, has a real problem getting actual rapists convicted. This makes it that much more difficult.”


But the majority said the use of force is an element of the crime: It can’t be true that a rape case involved both forcible compulsion and consent. For defendants to prove consent, they are also disproving forcible compulsion — which means the state has been requiring the defendant to prove they didn’t commit the crime, rather than requiring prosecutors to prove the defendant did.


The ruling came in the case of a boy identified only as W.R. Jr., who was convicted of second-degree rape in King County. He was awarded a new trial.



W.R. Jr.’s attorney, Gregory Link of the Washington Appellate Project, characterized criticism of the ruling as “fear-mongering.”


“I don’t think there’s any concern we’re going back to the dark days of rape prosecution,” he said. “This doesn’t change much. It just clarifies for jurors who has the burden of proof and who doesn’t. Outside this one area of law, that’s the way things are always done.”


Link said because of procedural rules, he did not expect the ruling to lead to many new trials for defendants convicted under the old court holdings.





 



Amazing.



Inspiring.



I can even envision a day when actual evidence might once again be required for rape convictions. :beers:

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Originally Posted by titleguy View Post

No ****e Dick Tracy....


So there shouldn't be any significant quarrel between political factions over whether or not everyone, regardless of the crime they're accused of, should be afforded due process.

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So there shouldn't be any significant quarrel between political factions over whether or not everyone, regardless of the crime they're accused of, should be afforded due process.

 

And "Rape Shield" laws were apparently bad public policy....

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Rape Shield laws, like all anti-sex laws...Are supported by both the Religious Right and the Feminist Left.


Therefore = Politically neutral. :th:


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Amazing.

Inspiring.

I can even envision a day when actual evidence might once again be required for rape convictions. :beers:

 

 

Do you think an actual "Rapo"(jail term)will get off with this new clarification? do you have any stats on the number of wrongly convicted(she said I could bang her)people? Why anytime the word "Rape" or "Molester" you celebrate? with this :beers:

 

Look at this here what you posted

 

Amazing.

Inspiring.

I can even envision a day when actual evidence might once again be required for rape convictions. :beers:

 

"Amazing" "Inspiring" did you find some way to skirt the law with this new found freedom? you sick mother ****er? :)

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Originally Posted by Skiddd View Post

Do you think an actual "Rapo"(jail term)will get off with this new clarification? do you have any stats on the number of wrongly convicted(she said I could bang her)people? Why anytime the word "Rape" or "Molester" you celebrate? with this beers.gif

Look at this here what you posted

Amazing.

Inspiring.

I can even envision a day when actual evidence might once again be required for rape convictions. beers.gif

"Amazing" "Inspiring" did you find some way to skirt the law with this new found freedom? you sick mother ****er? smile.gif


 


In this instance, the > :beers:< smilie is being used to denote a sense of drunken negligence...Which is how I'd like to think that our government comes up with such laws...


The alternative being sober malice.


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Quote:

Originally Posted by Skiddd View Post

Do you think an actual "Rapo"(jail term)will get off with this new clarification? do you have any stats on the number of wrongly convicted(she said I could bang her)people? Why anytime the word "Rape" or "Molester" you celebrate? with this beers.gif

Look at this here what you posted

Amazing.

Inspiring.

I can even envision a day when actual evidence might once again be required for rape convictions. beers.gif

"Amazing" "Inspiring" did you find some way to skirt the law with this new found freedom? you sick mother ****er? smile.gif


 



By the way. The new definition of "rape" that's now been instituted into law (at least as far as college students in California are concerned). Requires "affirmative consent". Which means getting verbal consent for each action.


You need verbal consent to kiss, and this verbal consent only extends as far as kissing.


You'll need a new verbal consent for every "step" of activity taken......Or you are a rapist. (This of course, only applies to men.)


 


 



If you're wondering how you can prove "affirmative consent", the answer is, you can't.



The whole purpose of this law is to make every male a rapist, based solely on the word of a female.





 



Quote:



...The bill’s principal co-author, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, had no clue how one could prove they received affirmative consent.



“Your guess is as good as mine,” Lowenthal told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.




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