Golden Gate University Law Review


Allison West


This article advocates changes to existing California statutes to better protect the rights of victims of nonstranger rape. As this article will show, the mere happenstance that a victim knows her rapist too often changes the dynamics of the prosecution and the perception of the victim. Section II of this Article discusses the differences between stranger and nonstranger rape, looking specifically at the psychological factors that distinguish the victims of each type of crime. Section II also focuses on the nonstranger rape victim's difficulty in reconciling that the randomness of the violence against her is absent compared to the victim of stranger rape. Section III explores the obstacles associated with prosecuting non stranger rape cases focusing on low reporting rates and the reluctance of prosecutors to file charges and for judges and juries to convict. Section IV examines the inadequacy of the current California rape statutes and critiques five specific sections of the Penal Code that may contribute to the low rate of prosecutions of nonstranger rape. Finally, Section V provides suggestions for reform and proposes a model rape statute that would more fairly protect the rights of women raped by either strangers or nonstrangers. The proposed statute clarifies what rape is, and does not focus on the victim's actions or inactions, her consent or lack of consent, or her state of mind, because to do so would keep the focus of the crime on the woman as opposed to the perpetrator.

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