Is the Purpose of Legislature to Do Away With the Requirement of Resistance ?
In People v. Barnes (1986) 42 Cal.3d 284, 301, 228 Cal. Rptr. 228, 721 P.2d 110, the Court of Appeal reversed the defendant's conviction for rape, finding insufficient evidence that the victim resisted the sexual assault.
The California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal because amendments to the rape statute had eliminated the previous requirement of resistance.
After discussing this requirement and the amendments eliminating it, the court concluded that "the Legislature's purposes in amending the rape statute were:
(1) to relieve the state of the need to establish resistance as a prerequisite to a rape conviction, and (2) to release rape complainants from the potentially dangerous burden of resisting an assailant in order to substantiate allegations of forcible rape." ( Id. at p. 302.)
Accordingly, it is not proper to instruct the jury that it must find the complainant resisted before it may return a verdict of guilt. (Ibid.)
After reaching this legal conclusion, the Barnes court analyzed whether the evidence in the case was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction.
In doing so, the court explained that "under prior law, forcible rape required that the accused employ that degree of force necessary under the circumstances to overcome the victim's resistance.
Although resistance is no longer the touchstone of the element of force, the reviewing court still looks to the circumstances of the case, including the presence of verbal or nonverbal threats, or the kind of force that might reasonably induce fear in the mind of the victim, to ascertain sufficiency of the evidence of a conviction . . . .
Additionally, the complainant's conduct must be measured against the degree of force manifested or in light of whether her fears were genuine and reasonably grounded." (People v. Barnes, supra, 42 Cal.3d at p. 304).