Ex- Rutgers student convicted of webcam spying can get new trial after bias crime law change
Feb 04, 2016 07:32 AM EST
A Rutgers University student convicted of spying on a roommate using a webcam could get a new trial. An appeals court ruling on the case is expected in 3 to 4 months following the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision to strike down the state's bias crime statute.
Dharun Ravi, a student of Rutgers University, could win a new trial after the N.J. Supreme Court struck down a part of the state's bias intimidation law. Ravi's defense attorneys will argue that the change in the law should reverse bias crime convictions against Ravi, reported APP.com.
Ravi was charged with committing bias crimes and other convictions after using a remote webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi. Ravi reportedly broadcast images of Clementi's intimate involvement with another man online. Clementi committed suicide days later.
The high court ruled a part of the state's bias intimidation law concerning the victim's state of mind as unconstitutional and does not conform to other bias crime statutes in the U.S. They said that what matters is the defendant's state of mind and intent. The decision will render the previous verdict of then-Supreme Court Judge Glenn Berman, who authorized the prosecution to provide the jury evidence showing Clementi's state of mind.
Steven Altman, Ravi's lawyer, said that the changes in the law should invalidate evidences used to convict the defendant. He said that 4 convictions against Ravi should be thrown out. However, Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office appealed that Ravi committed second-degree crimes and should be imprisoned for 10 years. The prosecution argued that the 30-day sentence in county jail given by the state to Ravi was too lenient.
Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge days after his affair with a man were secretly broadcasted. NJ.com reported that the incident raised the issues of cyberbullying and homophobia in university grounds.
Ravi was charged with counts of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, resisting arrest, tampering with witnesses, and other convictions. Defense argued that Ravi had nothing to do with Clementi's choice to commit suicide. Ravi was not charged in the death of Clementi.
According to ABC News, Clementi's parents attended the hearing on Ravi's case. They had set up a foundation dealing with bullying and LGBT discrimination. They said that more people are becoming aware of the harmful consequences of bullying.
The appeals court will hear arguments on Ravi's case in 3 to 4 months. By that time, judges will decide whether to invalidate Ravi's convictions, lengthen his sentence, or give him a new trial.