Court overturns rapist’s felony conviction for sexual assault because victim got herself drunk before attack

ST PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed a Maple Grove man’s felony conviction for sexual assault on March 24th, citing the victim’s self-induced inebriation prior to the incident doesn’t align with the statute used to prosecute the offender.

According to court documents, Francois Khalil, then 20, picked up an intoxicated woman outside a Dinkytown bar in 2017, drove her to a North Minneapolis residence, and raped her after she passed out on a couch.

In 2019, a jury in Hennepin County found him guilty of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Khalil’s lawyer proclaimed at the time that the felony charge should not apply because the law was only designed to address cases in which the victim was given drugs or alcohol without their consent by the offender.

Khalil’s conviction was initially upheld by a split Minnesota Court of Appeals, but the state Supreme Court later objected, reversing the conviction, and affording Khalil a new trial.

According to Justice Paul Thissen, he wrote that the prosecution’s understanding of third-degree assault “unreasonably strains and stretches the plain text of the statute.”

When it comes to the criminal prosecution use-cases of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, a conviction of such requires that the offender be complicit in the victim becoming “mentally incapacitated”, which a key element specifically requires that the offender gave something such as drugs or alcohol that were “administered to that person without the person’s agreement.”

Justice Thissen’s written decision noted that the Legislature clearly intended to have the statute in which Khalil was originally convicted of only be applied in cases where the victim was “given alcohol surreptitiously (for example, when someone ‘spikes’ a punch bowl at a party)” by the offender.

However, in Khalil’s criminal case, the victim had admittedly taken a prescription pill and consumed five shots of vodka on her own volition prior to encountering Khalil.

Justice Thissen’s written decision noted that someone can become mentally incapacitated through their own actions to the point where they “cannot exercise judgment sufficiently to express consent” to things like sex, but the criminal charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct is not meant to address cases like that.

There are evidently no disagreements from attorneys on both sides as to what the facts are of the case, but Justice Thissen wrote that the criminal conduct described in Khalil’s case aligns more with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, which is a gross misdemeanor.

Even though Khalil’s first conviction was tossed, prosecutors will now have the opportunity to pursue a charge of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct against Khalil.

Interestingly, also within Thissen’s written opinion on this matter, he noted that the Legislature has recently been looking into expanding the statute of third-degree criminal sexual conduct to include criminal conduct similar to that described in Khalil’s case.

However, the bill that would achieve amending the statute is still making the rounds through the House.

On March 24th, the same day Khalil’s original conviction was overturned, the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Kelly Moller, issued the following statement regarding the importance of getting the bill passed:

“Victims who are intoxicated to the degree that they are unable to give consent are entitled to justice. Our laws must clearly reflect that understanding, and today’s Supreme Court ruling highlights the urgency lawmakers have to close this and other loopholes throughout our law.”

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In other recent and controversial court decisions, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California recently rendered an opinion that pertains to citizens right’s to open-carry. 

We at Law Enforcement Today recently shared a report detailing the decision made and the ramifications it poses. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently made a ruling that essentially establishes that the Second Amendment does not afford Americans the right to carry firearms in public, after a case was presented that challenged a Hawaii law pertaining to open carry restrictions and licensures.

In a 7-4 ruling that rejected a challenge to Hawaii’s law that requires residents to submit an application in order to be approved to carry a firearm in public, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made one of the most significant modern interpretations of the Second Amendment on March 24th.

For those unaware, Hawaii requires that residents who desire to carry a firearm outside of their home must submit an application that demonstrates they’re of good moral character and showcase some sort of need to carry their firearm in public.

One such Hawaii resident by the name of George Young had applied twice to get his open-carry license in the state, but wound up getting denied both times. So, Young decided to sue the state of Hawaii, thinking that the requirement to apply for open carrying in any facet infringes on the Second Amendment.

And, apparently, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently interpreted the Second Amendment as not affording any right for Americans to carry a firearm in public.

Within the court’s ruling, the following was noted:

“There is no right to carry arms openly in public; nor is any such right within the scope of the Second Amendment.

“We can find no general right to carry arms into the public square for self-defense.”

Instead, the court’s decision proclaimed that the Second Amendment only afforded Americans the right to utilize firearms for “the defense of hearth and home.”

With the court interpreting the Second Amendment as merely a proclamation that Americans can use firearms for home defense purposes, the court concluded that state and local restrictions on open-carry is perfectly constitutional:

“The power of the government to regulate carrying arms in the public square does not infringe in any way on the right of an individual to defend his home or business.”

This is a legal interpretation that the 9th Circuit proclaimed to have done before, noting in the decision that:

“we have previously held that individuals do not have a Second Amendment right to carry concealed weapons in public.”

What this means is that residents within the court’s jurisdiction, which is a healthy portion of west coast states, are barren of any right to carry a firearm outside of their home for the purpose of self-defense.  

Obviously, with this being a 7-4 decision ruling, four of the judges on the panel found that the majority of the 9th Circuit got this interpretation of the Second Amendment wrong.

Reagan appointee Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain found that “this holding is as unprecedented as it is extreme.”

In a tweet shared by the NRA following the ruling, while they noted that this wasn’t their case specifically, they’re going to work to see what can be done about this ruling.

They said:

“The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit just ruled that THERE IS NO RIGHT TO CARRY – either openly or concealed in public. This ruling impacts RTC laws in AK, HI, CA, AZ, OR, WA, & MT. This was not an NRA case but we are exploring all options to rectify this.”

Of course, there are those that find the 9th Circuit’s ruling as something to be enamored, with New Jersey AG Gurbir Grewal writing the following on Twitter:

“Today the Ninth Circuit agreed that laws that limit carrying guns in public are constitutional. Proud that NJ led a brief for 10 states in that case, & proud to support firearm safety laws that protect both the public & law enforcement officers.”

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Author: Gregory Hoyt

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