Manhattan’s district attorney has dropped part of the criminal sexual assault case against Harvey Weinstein after it was discovered that a police detective had coached a witness to not mention evidence that might have cast doubt on one of Weinstein’s accusers.
A Win for Weinstein
This is a big win for Weinstein and his legal team, and one that will undoubtedly aid in his defense. It’s also a great example of how a legal team is crucial if you are dealing with sexual assault allegations.
Sex crimes are some of the most aggressively prosecuted – and severely punished – crimes in Los Angeles, and these types of offenses are taken very seriously by California judges and prosecutors alike. Sadly, the criminal justice system is full of people falsely accused of sex crimes like indecent exposure and rape, and without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, these people can end up suffering life-changing punishments, possibly including life in prison. Not only do most Los Angeles sex crime convictions carry lengthy prison sentences, being found guilty of these types of offenses can also have catastrophic consequences for the defendant’s family and future, possibly resulting in ruined personal and professional relationships and a loss of important civil rights. If you have been charged with a sex crime in Los Angeles, contact our knowledgeable defense team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today. With our attorneys on your side, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and significantly improve your chances of reaching a favorable outcome in your criminal case.
Allegations Against Weinstein
In an expose published just a year ago, Lucia Evans, came forward to publicly accuse now-former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, 66, of sexual assault. Evans alleges Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex when they met in his office in 2004 to discuss Evans’ acting career. The two had met earlier at a restaurant in Manhattan.
Weinstein also faces charges over allegations that he raped an unidentified woman in his hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is free on $1 million bail.
Coached that “Less is More”
The charge that was recently tossed out is in the Evans case. The prosecution team learned a female friend that was with Evans the night she met Weinstein at the restaurant in Manhattan had provided police with a contradictory account of what happened.
According to the prosecution team, the female friend told the detective that Weinstein had offered her and Evans money to flash their breasts when they first met Weinstein at the Manhattan restaurant encounter. While both women initially declined, Evans later told her friend she had gone ahead and exposed herself to the film producer in a hallway.
The friend also told the detective that sometime after Evans’ went to the office meeting with Weinstein, where the alleged forced oral sex happened, Evans had suggested what happened was consensual. According to the friend’s account, Weinstein had promised to get Evans an acting job if she agreed to perform oral sex and that she had agreed.
According to the friend’s testimony, Evans had been drinking and “appeared to be upset, embarrassed and shaking” when she recounted her story.
Prosecutors said the police detective did not share any of this information with the prosecution team and had also urged the woman not to reveal details, coaching her that “less is more,” and that she was not obligated to cooperate with investigators.
Email to Husband Reveals Different Encounter
Prosecutors also disclosed they discovered a draft email Evans wrote three years ago to the man who is now her husband that “describes details of the sexual assault that differ from the account” she provided to investigators.
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the judge the prosecution team wouldn’t oppose dismissal of the count in the case involving Evans, insisting that the rest of the case, which includes the two other Weinstein accusers is strong.
“In short, your honor, we are moving full steam ahead,” she said.
Conviction for California Sex Crimes
Just because you have been accused of and arrested for a sex crime like rape, pimping and pandering, or sexual battery, does not mean you will automatically be found guilty and convicted of the crime. The burden of proof in these cases lies with the prosecution, which means the California prosecutor assigned to your case will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. For instance, if you are accused of committing rape, the other side will have to establish certain facts in order to find you guilty of the crime, including that:
• You engaged in sexual intercourse with the other person;
• You and the other person were not married at the time of the encounter;
• The intercourse was against the will of the other person; and
• The intercourse was accomplished using force, fear, duress, menace or fraud.
Penalties for a Sex Crimes Conviction
Sex crimes in California are typically punished more severely than any other criminal offense, except maybe murder, and because these crimes typically involve just two people, they often end up being a “he said, she said” situation, unless there is irrefutable evidence that the crime occurred. If this is the case, the person doing the accusing is the person the police are most likely going to believe, not the person who allegedly committed the crime. Whatever the circumstances of your alleged criminal offense, most felony sex crimes carry lengthy prison sentences and some defendants convicted of sex crimes are sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole if their crime is particularly grievous. Most felony sex crimes also count as a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law, which imposes significantly longer prison sentences on certain repeat offenders convicted of serious or violent felonies, such as rape, lewd or lascivious acts involving a minor, forcible sodomy or oral copulation, and assault with intent to commit rape or robbery.
In addition to a significant prison sentence and hefty fines, a sex crimes conviction almost always results in mandatory lifetime sex offender registration, which means, if you are convicted or rape, indecent exposure or another felony sex crime, you could be required to check in with local law enforcement every year for the rest of your life. Being registered as a sex offender also means you will be restricted in your ability to live and work in certain areas, and you could lose your job and professional licenses, and be banned from working in certain fields or owning or possessing a firearm.
Defenses to Sex Crimes Charges
Facing charges for a serious sex crime in California may seem like the end of the world, but it is important to remember that if you are accused of a criminal offense, it is your right to assert any legal defense that can help explain, excuse or justify your behavior. Our lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles understand what defense strategies are most successful in Los Angeles sex crimes cases and will do everything in their power to develop an effective defense against the sex crimes charges. Some helpful defenses to assert in a California rape crimes case may include:
• You were falsely accused
• You are the victim of mistaken identity
• The prosecution’s evidence is insufficient
• The sex was consensual
• No sexual contact occurred
• You honestly and reasonably believed that the alleged victim consented
Although some sex crimes occur because one or both people had too much to drink, being too intoxicated to know what you were doing is not a valid defense in a California sex crimes case if the intoxication was voluntary. If you were “involuntary intoxicated” at the time the offense occurred, meaning your drink was spiked or you were otherwise drugged without your knowledge or consent, this defense may apply to your case.
Perjury Charges for Evans?
Benjamin Brafman, one of the lawyers representing Weinstein, told the judge he believed Evans had lied both to the grand jury and also to the publication that first broke the story about her encounter with Weinstein.
“The integrity of these proceedings has been compromised,” he said. Outside of court he suggested Evans should be prosecuted criminally for perjury.
“This is an attack on the fundamental integrity of the grand jury process. If you have a person willing to commit perjury in the grand jury, that is as serious as the crime of sexual assault because it undermines the fairness of the process for all of us.”
Perjury is the legal term for deliberately giving false information while under oath, a crime that is covered under California Penal Code § 118 PC. You could face charges of perjury in Los Angeles if you intentionally give false information in any of the following situations:
• When being deposed
• When testifying in court
• In a signed declaration
• In a signed certificate
• In a driver’s license application at the DMV
• In a signed affidavit
Some examples of California perjury under Penal Code § 118 PC would be testifying to your opinion during a trial if you didn’t believe in the opinion you were testifying about, or intentionally providing false information on a tax return or report that requires an oath, regardless of whether the oath was actually taken. It is important to note that you must actually convey a false statement, either verbally or in writing, to another person with the intent that the statement be taken as the truth, in order for the crime of perjury to apply. If you say or write something intended only for yourself, the act cannot be charged as perjury.
In addition to the act of perjury, the state of California recognizes another type of perjury – willfully convincing or persuading another person to knowingly give false information while under oath. This crime is known as subornation of perjury under Penal Code § 127 PC, and the law states that if you are successful in convincing another person to commit perjury, you can be charged along with the actual perjurer. An example of suborning perjury would be if a neighbor witnesses a man hitting his wife and the neighbor is subpoenaed by the prosecution to be a witness at the man’s trial for corporal injury on a spouse (Penal Code § 273.5 PC). If the man convinces the neighbor to lie on the witness stand, the neighbor could be charged with perjury (Penal Code § 118 PC) and the man himself could be charged with suborning perjury (Penal Code § 127 PC). If, however, the man tried to convince the neighbor to commit perjury and the neighbor told the truth instead, the man could only be charged with solicitation of a crime (Penal Code § 653(f) PC).
Hiring an Experienced Sex Crimes Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
There is no turning back from a sex crimes conviction in California. Even after the criminal penalties associated with the offense have been served, you will still have a felony on your criminal record for the rest of your life, not to mention other serious legal consequences, and the stigma of the sex crimes conviction will follow you for the rest of your life, even if you are innocent of the crime. Sex crimes are serious criminal offenses, and California law requires that all sex crime allegations are investigated, and rightfully so. However, some people are mistaken in making such accusations and some people flat out lie, either to shift the blame from themselves or to get revenge on the other person. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a sex crime in Los Angeles, do not wait until formal charges have been filed to contact a sex crimes defense lawyer. California sex crimes accusations demand early intervention and aggressive investigation, and our legal team is capable of both. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today at (213) 205-3100 to discuss with a resourceful and aggressive sex crimes lawyer the best defense strategy to fight the charges against you.