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Understanding the Court System: People vs Turner Case Case Study

Summary of the Seminal Facts of the Case

The case People versus Tuner is one of the recent cases that drew massive public attention given the sentence that the offender was given and the time that he spent in prison for the crime. In this criminal case, Tuner was charged with raping an intoxicated person and sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object (Krahé, 2016). The incident happened on January 18, 2015, at Stanford University.

The victim, who was referred in this case as Emily Doe, had attended a friend’s party in the company of her sister and other friends. The tuner had also attended the same party. It was established that at the party, Emily took a substantial amount of alcohol. The victim stated that she cannot remember how she left the party around midnight. She passed out. Two graduate students, Fredrick Arndt and Peter Johnson saw the pair behind a dumpster. They realized that the defendant was on top of the victim and that the victim appeared to be unconscious.

The two graduate students were promoted to inspect what was going on because of the awkwardness of the place where the pair was, the fact that it was about 1.00 am, and the fact that the lady was not showing any signs of being able to move. When the defendant saw the two students coming, he got up and started running away. The two students, with the help of a few people who were close and were attracted by the commotion, apprehended the defendant and called the police.

They also called for an ambulance for the victim. The victim was taken to hospital where it was confirmed that she had been penetrated. At the time of examination, the patient was still unconscious due to the intoxication. The defendant was taken to police custody. The defendant claimed that it was a mutual agreement between them and that the victim had consented to the sexual acts which took place that night. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison and three years of probation (Armstrong & Mahone, 2016).

Main Laws That Have Been Violated In the Case

In the United States’ Constitution, rape is defined as “a form of sexual battery performed against someone who either is unwilling or is unable to consent” (Paarsch & Golyaev, 2016). A person can be unable to give consent because she is not of legal age, she is not mentally stable, or unconscious hence has no power to control events happening. In this case, the victim was unconscious and had passed out hence she was unable to give consent. Given that the defendant went ahead and engaged in sexual activities when the victim was unable to give consent, it clear as per the law that it was a rape case other than being consensual sex. The defendant broke several laws.

He violated the law that prohibits raping a person who is intoxicated and unconscious hence cannot give consent. He also violated the law that proscribes sexual penetration of a person who is unconscious using foreign objects (Armstrong & Mahone, 2016). As per the United States’ laws, these acts amount to rape, and the court found that the defendant was guilty of these criminal offenses.

Possible Penalties That Could Be Associated With the Laws

According to Krahé (2016), rape is one of the most serious criminal offenses which carry serious penalties according to laws of the United States of America. The penalty may vary from one state to another, and based on the nature of the assault. Aggravated rape is one of the worst criminal acts that carry very heavy sentences in the United States.

If it is determined, without any reasonable doubt, that one has committed aggravated rape, then the maximum sentence can be life in prison. Such sentences are common in cases where the victim is a minor and the assault resulted in serious physical injuries. The law requires the prosecution to prove to the court, beyond any reasonable doubt, that indeed the defendant committed aggravated rape.

The rape of an intoxicated person or sexually penetrating an unconscious person also carries a serious sentence depending on the state, the age of the victim, and how the assault occurred. If one is found guilty of this crime, he or she can serve a jail sentence of up to 14 years in prison. This was a possible penalty that Tuner would have received based on his offense. According to Paarsch & Golyaev (2016), most of the rape cases often attract a court sentence of 7 to 8 years in prison.

After a prison sentence, sex offenders may still face some penalties that they have to deal with for the rest of their lives. The law requires sex offenders to register with local police departments about their criminal past. The public will be informed, through the internet, that such a person is a sex offender. In some states, such sex offenders may be prohibited from living near schools, parks, or places where defenseless people frequent because they are considered a danger to society.

Jurisdictional Requirements the Court

This case was heard in County Superior Court which is a state court system. Rape is often classified as a Class 2 offense, which means that it is considered a serious crime. Such cases are often tried in county superior courts which have the initial jurisdiction over such cases. Most of these rape cases are often tried at Circuit Courts as the original courts (Paarsch & Golyaev, 2016). After sentencing, the defendant may want to appeal the court’s decision.

In such incidences, the case may be taken to higher courts for a new trial. Courts of Appeal have jurisdiction over such cases. In some rare cases, the defendant may want a trial at the highest court in the country if they feel that the lower courts ignored some facts or were unfair in making their rulings. Such cases often reach the Supreme Court which is the highest court in the country. The decision made by the Supreme Court is final because there is no other court that has jurisdiction above it.

Summary of the Outcome of the Case

After presenting the evidence and witnesses to the court, the prosecution strongly recommended a jail sentence of not less than six years given the emotional trauma and physical injuries the crime caused the victim. On the other hand, the probation officials of Santa Clara County recommended a moderate jail sentence which often means not more than four months in jail. The tuner was sentenced to six months in jail. The sentence was made by Judge Aaron Persky on June 2, 2016 (Ferguson & Malouff, 2016). Turner only served 3 months in jail. He was released earlier than the scheduled date for his good behavior in prison and showing remorse for his actions.

Personal Belief of the Outcome of the Case

I strongly believe that rape is a very serious offense that must always be treated as such at all times. In this case, there is a sense of irresponsibility on the part of the victim. As an adult, it was irresponsible of her to take alcohol to the point of unconsciousness knowing that she was at a party. It is also not clear how she left the venue to such a secluded place where the incident took place. However, her irresponsible behavior does not justify the actions of the defendant.

The defendant claims that the victim had given him consent to engage in sexual acts. However, at the time of that act, the victim had become unconscious. As such, she was no longer a party to what was going on. She was unable to approve or disapprove of the actions of the defendant. Under the law, having sexual intercourse with a person who is in that state is considered rape because the person is unable to give consent. His actions were deliberate and intended to take advantage of the victim.

A jail sentence of six months (the victim served only 3 months) was not justified. The defense team did not give a satisfactory reason why a criminal who has sexually assaulted an intoxicated and unconscious person should be given a light sentence of only six months. On the other hand, the prosecutor gave a justification for why the defendant should have been jailed for at least six years.


Armstrong, C. & Mahone, J. (2016). “. Journal of Mass Communication and Society, 4(5), 1-24. Web.

Ferguson, C. & Malouff, J. (2016). Assessing Police Classifications of Sexual Assault Reports: A Meta-Analysis of False Reporting Rates. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(5), 1185–1193. Web.

Krahé, B. (2016). Societal Responses to Sexual Violence Against Women: Rape Myths and the “Real Rape” Stereotype. New York: Springer.

Paarsch, H. J., & Golyaev, K. (2016). A gentle introduction to effective computing in quantitative research: What every research assistant should know. London, UK: The MIT Press.

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"Understanding the Court System: People vs Turner Case." IvyPanda, 13 Oct. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/understanding-the-court-system-people-vs-turner-case/.

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IvyPanda. "Understanding the Court System: People vs Turner Case." October 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/understanding-the-court-system-people-vs-turner-case/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Understanding the Court System: People vs Turner Case." October 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/understanding-the-court-system-people-vs-turner-case/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Understanding the Court System: People vs Turner Case'. 13 October.

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