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California argues whether raping an unconscious person is a violent criminal

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Raping a person who can’t give consent, either because they are drugged or disabled, is not considered a violent felony in California.

“When you say to women in my district that raping an unconscious woman is not a violent crime, they have a physical reaction,” said Republican Assemblywoman Megan Dahle (R- Redding). 

Afterward, Dahle tries to explain to her constituents what that means.

“If you do not have any violent crimes, felonies on your record, you can be released early,” she said. 

As far as why it’s like that, voters passed Proposition 57 in 2016. It was supported by then Governor Jerry Brown to make up for decades of tough on crime policies. 

Criminals charged with non-violent felonies would have the opportunity to get out early, but the proposition did not label all types of rape as violent. 

“I understand that members of the senate may be concerned about adding another strike to the three strikes law and prison overcrowding and I too share that concern,” said state Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D- Modesto). “However, we must protect victims here in California and not give criminals more rights.”

Alvarado-Gil is the author of the bill she says is aimed at correcting a wrong. 

“Just to put this in perspective, if a perpetrator were to rape a victim and go that extra step to drug them, it would be less of an offense,” she said. 

The bill will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee Tuesday. 

“It is unlikely that this will pass tomorrow in the Public Safety Committee,” said Alvarado-Gil. “I’m a realist, but I also know that this is worth the fight. Tomorrow, we will have hundreds of survivors at the Capitol steps telling their story. Hundreds of survivors that only represent a fraction of the women and men and children that continue to be victims of this crime.”

Republican Assemblymember Dahle is more hopeful that this will pass the committee because it has a Democratic author. 

“What do you tell your constituents?” Dahle asked. “We were elected to come here and represent our constituency, that’s what our job was.”

The bill lists all rape as needing to be a violent felony. A few weeks ago, there was a bill on the Assembly side that would have made domestic violence, human trafficking, and rape of an unconscious woman a violent crime. That one failed to pass. 

Source: abc10