Minnesota readers might be interested to learn that Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on March 11 in a New York City courtroom. In February, the former Hollywood film producer was convicted of committing a criminal sexual act and rape in the third degree.
The case against Weinstein kicked into high gear after two exposés about his alleged criminal conduct were published in October 2017, prompting dozens of women to come forward with accusations that he sexually assaulted them and then intimidated them into remaining silent. The allegations against him were instrumental in launching the #MeToo movement that rocked the film and television industries in 2018 and 2019.
A total of six women testified against Weinstein during the trial, which lasted several weeks. Their testimonies helped prosecutors paint a picture of a serial sexual predator who assaulted and harassed young women in Hollywood dating back to the 1970s. If he had been convicted of all charges, he could have faced up to life in prison. However, the jury acquitted him of the most serious charges. Even so, his defense attorneys argued that the 23-year sentence handed down by the judge was a “de facto life sentence” and “obscene.”
As this case demonstrates, defendants accused of sex crimes can face severe consequences if they are convicted by a judge or jury. As a result, some criminal defense attorneys might suggest negotiating a plea deal that lets the defendant plead guilty to lesser charges. This strategy would allow the defendant to avoid the stress and added risk of a trial, and it might help him or her obtain a lighter sentence.