Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Bills Inspired By Turner Sexual Assault Case Sent to Governor

Bills Inspired By Turner Sexual Assault Case Sent to Governor
CA Sexual Assault BillsGUEST: Katie Orr, government and politics reporter, KQED

The state legislature is sending a stack of bills to Governor Brown's desk is this session draws to a close. One group of bills attempts to close loopholes in California's rape laws. The proposed laws were written in response to the case of Stanford student brought Turner, who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman last January. You will be released from prison Friday, after serving only half of a six-month sentence. Katie Orr politics and government reporter at cute key -- KQED. Remind us of the notoriety of the Brock Turner case. I think it's for several reasons, first of all the victim wrote a 12 page letter, detailing the effect that this attack had on her, on her family, the aftermath of her life, basically saying this is not over for her and she is not sure if it will ever be over for her. She read that letter to the defendant in court. That made a huge splash. The sentence for this case was really liked. The prosecutors had recommended a jail sentence of several years, instead Brock Turner was only sentenced to six months. He will be out on Friday, because he only had to serve three of it because of automatic goodtime credits. Many state legislators were among those expressing outrage at this short sentence handed down to Brock Turner . His case exposed loopholes in the state rape laws didn't it? It did. People were very outraged. Several female lawmakers in the Senate read sections of the victims letter on the Senate floor, which was really powerful to hear. Yes, legislation did come out of it. Assembly bill 701 from Cristina Garcia and Susan Aikman expands California's definition of rape. Currently the definition is very narrow, it is limited to forced intercourse. In the Brock Turner case he didn't actually have intercourse with her. His crimes could not be classified as rape, under the current law. This would expand the definition to include all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault. Another bill, assembly bill 2888 from Evan low, bill.and Senator Jerry Hill would prohibit judges from granting probation in sexual assault cases where the victim was unconscious or intoxicated. In a case like Brock Turner, he wouldn't be able to have a suspended sentence or probation, he would have to serve the minimum sentence. In California, you can be sentenced to three, five or eight years for rape. There's another bill that passed earlier that has not been signed by the governor, that would eliminate the statute of limitation -- limitations on rape cases? Yes. Senate Bill 813 by Senator Connie live was introduced before the Brock Turner sentence came down. It actually just past its final vote yesterday and is on its way to the governor. It would eliminate the statute of limitations for several sex offenses, including rape in continuous sexual abuse of a child. While this was introduced before the Brock Turner case gained know it -- notoriety, it certainly has been helped by that case. It's been given momentum and push forward. All of these bills passed with wide margins, if not unanimously. I want to move on to another bill that's awaiting the governor's signature, that would limit the government's ability to seize the assets of suspected criminals. That law has been controversial for years has and it? Yes. This is a interesting situation, if you are pulled over by police and for some reason they suspect you might be doing something illegal in the searcher car, finding an amount of money. They were able to take that money and keep it, even if you were in.convicted. Police would argue this is a way to deter drug cartels from doing business, they might lose all their money going back and forth. Other people were arguing that it really had impact on poor people, immigrants, people without bank accounts. I have heard stories about people are in the medical marijuana business and cannot use a bank account. They often travel with large amounts of cash. If they get pulled over the police can take that cash. It's expensive to get it back and it takes a long time. People argue that people don't have the circumstances to be able to get the money back. What this bill does, it says if you don't have a conviction you get your money back, if it's worth less than $40,000. That's still a lot of money, it was sort of a compromise, to say if you are built -- dealing with drug cartels they have more than that, so you can carry on with that. For anyone who may be a private citizen, it's supposed to make it easier for them to get the money back. How long does the governor have to make a decision about this and so many other bills on his desk? The bills on his desk when session ends today, he has until September 30. He gets more time to act on them. Typically he has 12 days, they know he has hundreds of bills on his desk, so he gets a month. We've already started seeing him to sign or veto different bills. They are trickling out at the -- as the day goes on. I've been speaking with Katie Orr.

Brock Turner, a former Stanford University student and member of the swim team, was convicted in March of this year for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the Stanford University campus.

When his sentence was handed down by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, many found it as shocking as the crime itself. Turner received six months in county jail and three years of probation.


He will be released Friday after serving three months.

California's sentencing guidelines for rape of an unconscious person allow for judges to use their discretion in a ruling, including just a penalty of probation. Turner's sentence inspired two separate bills to close loopholes in those guidelines.

AB 701, co-authored by San Diego Assembly members Toni Atkins and Brian Maienschein, expands the definition of rape.

AB 2888 prohibits probation for certain crimes, including rape.

Another bill, SB 813, written before Turner's sentencing, eliminates the statute of limitations for rape. That bill is awaiting final passage by the senate.


KQED's government and politics reporter Katie Orr discusses these bills and their prognosis for being signed by Gov. Brown, on Midday Edition.