From time to time, a judge, prosecutor, or defense attorney will call the School of Government asking about the law of sexual assualts in, say, 1968. Typically, the caller will be handling a case involving recent allegations of sexual abuse by a person who is now an adult but who was a child at the time of the alleged abuse. Because the general rule is that conduct is measured against the criminal law in effect at the time of the conduct, such inquiries send us scurrying off to the library, where we dust off the old books and assemble some information about what charges were available in 1968 and what sentencing consequences those charges carried.
After reinventing the wheel for about the hundredth time, my colleague Jamie Markham and I wised up and decided to compile the most frequently requested information in a systematic way. A new Administration of Justice Bulletin, Sexual Assault Cases Based on Conduct before 2001, is the result. It provides information about the law of sexual assaults from 1950 through 2000, including material that is useful at both the charging and sentencing stages. It’s available here as a free download.
One important aspect of the bulletin that has application beyond the sexual assault context is Jamie’s terrific summary of the various sentencing regimes that we’ve had since 1950. Any time an old case must be resentenced — for example, after a successful MAR — lawyers and judges struggle to figure out how sentencing should proceed and how DOC will actually implement the sentence. Well, struggle no more! Jamie’s summary of Fair Sentencing and pre-Fair Sentencing law is the best I’ve seen.
We sincerely hope that this publication is useful. And of course, we welcome your feedback on it.