Monday, January 11, 2016

No Criminal Charges for Bill Cosby in California

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has decided, as of the present time, not to file criminal charges against Bill Cosby. The decision was announced on January 6, 2016. On Dec 30th, 2015, Bill Cosby was arraigned for aggravated indecent assault at his Pennsylvania home. The charges included drugging and sexually assaulting a woman. 

Case Facts

The 78-year-old actor will not be exposed to any criminal charges due to the lack of evidence and conflicting facts. In addition, the statue of limitations has expired on other charges relating to incidents in 2004, 2008 and 1965. Bill Cosby maintains he is innocent in all alleged accusations. 

Definition of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault by definition refers to a victim being subjected to a crime involving offensive and unwanted touching. It can range from sexual groping to forcible rape. It is an involuntary sexual contact that occurs through the victim being incapacitated, coerced or forced into sexual act. It can occur between people of any age and both genders. 

Criminal Charges vs. Civil Suits

Sexual assault falls into the category of criminal charges, and the prosecution must establish several elements including the defendants intent and that the victim’s intimate parts were touched without their consent and under restraint. Burden of proof is much higher in criminal cases and the prosecutor must show that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. 

Alternatively, in civil trials, the “burden of proof” only requires to create a reasonable doubt based on facts and evidence. Civil suits can be brought in both federal and state courts. Civil cases typically pertain to private disputes, whereas criminal suits consist of a wider spectrum of circumstances and often involve entire organizations. 

The Basics of Civil Suits

In civil suits, both the plaintiff and the defendant are allowed to present their own evidence. The jury then decides if the defendant should be held legally responsible for any damages. In many cases of civil suits, vast majority of disputes is resolved before the trial via mediation, arbitration or case dismissal. A civil trail typically consists of several stages, beginning with choosing a jury and ending with the verdict.

After both parties present their arguments, it is then decided by a judge or jury if the defendant is liable for any money damages. In many instances, the judge may decide in favor of one party on one issue and in favor of the other party on another issue. Although in civil suits, the judge typically declares a verdict, in some instances a jury is chosen where the plaintiff and the defendant have the opportunity to exclude certain jurors if they feel that he or she cannot be sincerely objective about the presented case. These “peremptory challenges” may include ethnicity and gender. 

After opening statements, witness testimonies, cross-examination and closing arguments, the jury is given instructions on legal standards that should be used when deciding the case. Those relevant legal principles will guide the jury to arrive at certain conclusions. The judge will also explain the key concepts based on the data presented at the time of trial. The jury deliberates about the case and decides if the defendant should be held liable for any damages. If a unanimous decision cannot be reached, the case may be declared as “mistrial” and dismissed or started from the beginning by choosing another panel of jurors. 

Major Differences between Criminal and Civil Lawsuits

1. Criminal cases are harder to prove and carry more severe punishments.
2. Criminal cases are mostly conducted by trial by jury. Civil cases are typically decided by a judge. 
3. In criminal cases, the defendant is appointed an attorney chosen by the state if they cannot afford one. In civil cases, the defendant must pay for their own attorney or represent themselves. 
4. Civil cases typically result in money damages and the punishment is less severe than in criminal lawsuits. 

If you have been a victim of sexual assault and seek compensation, a competent legal advice from a sex assault and abuse attorney will help you understand the legal process and obtain the proper guidance. During the consultation, you will be able to discuss your case in detail and find out how to proceed into resolving the matter.