Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Words You Don't Want to Hear

"We find the defendant guilty of aggravated rape." These are words you definitely never want to hear if you're sitting in the defendant's chair in a criminal trial, but two former Vanderbilt football players in a Tennessee courtroom had to listen to just those words as the jury foreperson read out guilty verdicts against them for sexually assaulting a woman who was passed out.

At the trial, the football players apparently tried to argue that they were too drunk to know what they were doing. Bad idea. The Washington Post has the story:
The defense blamed alcohol.
“The testimony was he was crazy drunk and didn’t know what he was doing,” Worrick Robinson, Batey’s attorney, said at trial.
Such arguments that the defendants were not in their right minds — or that their actions should be blamed on a college culture of licentiousness — did not go over with the jury.
This case illustrates that blaming alcohol isn't going to beat a rape charge. In California, as the Attorney General recently explained, voluntary intoxication is no defense to lack of consent. (Pen. Code, § 29.4, CALCRIM No. 3426.)

The drunk defense won't even beat a college campus disciplinary proceeding. As the Attorney General put it, “under SB 967, if the accused believed—due to the accused’s own intoxication or recklessness—that the complainant consented, this belief is not a valid excuse for any lack of affirmative consent. (Ed. Code, § 67386, subd. (a)(2)(A).)”

“I was just drunk out of my mind,” said one of the Vanderbilt defendants. “This is something I would never do in my right state of mind.”

Maybe, maybe not. It doesn't really matter. He did it, and so he is going to jail.

Getting drunk is dangerous. It is dangerous because it makes people more vulnerable to crime. It is dangerous because it makes people more likely to commit crimes. These two Vanderbilt football players learned that lesson the hard way.

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