Articles Tagged with bill cosby

The saga of Bill Crosby’s criminal trial for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting dozens of women is finally over, as earlier this month, a Pennsylvania jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision, resulting in a mistrial.

It is reported that on the sixth day of jury deliberations, two of the 12 jurors prevented a guilty verdict. The jury reportedly deliberated for 53 hours and asked 12 questions of the court during deliberations. An anonymous juror told ABC News that 10 out of the 12 jurors believed Cosby was guilty in two out of the three counts filed against him. The third count had the vote of 11 of the 12 jurors.

During the trial, prosecutors called 12 witnesses, including Andrea Constand, the woman who first came forward with allegations against Cosby.  She endured over a week of testimony with no forensic evidence.

Constand first told police about the alleged assault in January 2005, a year after she says it took place. The district attorney at the time declined to press charges, citing insufficient evidence. She thereafter sued Cosby in a civil suit and settled for an undisclosed amount in 2006.

Judge O’Neill, the judge presiding over the trial, declared the mistrial with prosecutors announcing that they plan to retry the case.

What Exactly is a Mistrial?

In the criminal justice system, a mistrial (also called a “hung jury”) is one that is not successfully completed. In other words, the jury cannot come to a decision even when it is given the adequate time to deliberate.   

Mistrials can occur for a number of reasons, including the death of the attorney, juror misconduct, or a prejudicial error unfair to the defendant. The most common reason for mistrial is a “hung jury,” when different members cannot come to a conclusion as to the guilt of the defendant.  Either side may file a motion for mistrial, which is either granted or denied by the presiding judge.  The government can still seek for a re-trial when there is a mistrial.

Juries Must be Unanimous for Criminal Trials

In federal court, whether the trial is criminal or civil, juries must reach a unanimous verdict. In state courts, almost every state requires a unanimous verdict in criminal trials.

In criminal trials, 12 jurors has traditionally been the norm, with a few outlier states that allow for six jurors (ie. Florida allows for six-person juries in criminal trials). Continue reading

In a controversy that took the nation by storm, Bill Cosby was arrested for the drugging and sexual assault of a woman in 2004. Since allegations first surfaced, dozens of women have come forward accusing Cosby of drugging and raping them. This is the first time Cosby has been arrested or charged with sexual misconduct despite the years of allegations mounting against him. Cosby has been charged with aggravated indecent assault, punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

The decision to prosecute came just days before Pennsylvania’s 12-year statute of limitations for bringing charges was set to run out. Prosecutors claim that Cosby assaulted Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee with pills and wine, then penetrating her with his fingers without her consent. Prosecutors reopened the case this summer due to damaging testimony unsealed in Constand’s civil lawsuit against Cosby, as dozens of other women came forward with similar accusations. It is a huge turn of events, as the previous District Attorney in Pennsylvania refused to press charges when Constand first approached law enforcement about her assault in 2005. Cosby claims the encounter was consensual. He was released on $1 million bail.  

Cosby also currently faces a slew of defamation and sexual-abuse lawsuits filed in Massachusetts, Los Angeles, and Pennsylvania. In most of those cases, however, it is too late to file criminal charges.

Possession of Rohypnol, the Date Rape Drug

While Mr. Cosby is accused of having used different drugs ranging from Quaaludes in the 1970s to Benadryl, the most common drug used nowadays is Rohypnol, also known as the “date rape” drug. Rohypnol is a trade name for flunitrazepam, a pharmaceutical drug prescribed as a treatment for severe insomnia. It is a potent muscle relaxant and sedative and also blocks a person’s ability to form memory. The USDA has not approved its medical use in the United States.

Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 84, possession of any amount of illegal drug is a crime that carries serious potential prison sentences. However, Prop 47, which was voted into law by ballot initiative back in April 2015, made possession of Rohypnol a misdemeanor instead of a felony. It used to be punishable by up to three years imprisonment.  Now, because of Prop 47, a conviction of possession of the date rape drug is punishable by one year imprisonment and up to a $1,000 fine.

It should be noted that these are just the penalties for the possession of the drug. The sentences for any assault associated with or without the date rape drug still remain the same. Continue reading