Dharun Ravi Trial: The Breakdown
Verdict reached in trial of Dharun Ravi
March 16, 2012— -- Ravi Guilty on All 15 Counts, Including a Hate Crime
Dharun Ravi today was found guilty of all 15 counts against him, including invasion of privacy and anti-gay intimidation, a state law hate crime.
The hate crime is the most serious offense and carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, but convicts typically serve about two to four years in state prison for this.
Invasion of privacy carries up to five years, but convicts typically get probation and no prison time for this crime alone.
The judge will almost certainly sentence him to concurrent, or overlapping, prison terms so that in effect he'll only serve time for the most serious offense, rather than having his prison terms for all 15 crimes added together. So he's likely looking at several years in prison, possibly one to five.
Note: We initially heard some "not guilty" readings on the charges, but these pertained only to sub-counts and did not change the verdict. The jurors were given a list of questions, but only had to find him guilty on one point per count. So the "not guilty" sub-counts, which mostly pertained to alleged hate crimes against Clementi's lover "MB," didn't change his 15 count conviction.
Possible Deportation for Ravi
This felony conviction also means he could be deported to his native India, even though he has lived in the U.S. legally since he was young. There's a "high likelihood" of deportation after he serves his time, said legal expert John Fahy, because the bottom line is: any felony, you are getting deported. Immigration issues will be looked at after the sentencing.
What is a New Jersey Hate Crime?
In New Jersey, prosecutors can charge a hate crime if you target someone because they're gay or the victim reasonably believes he was targeted because he's gay.
The jurors were split on whether Ravi specifically targeted Clementi because he was gay, but found that Clementi reasonably believed he was being targeted for being gay, which increased his suffering. That was enough to convict.
Hate crime cases are hard to prove beyond doubt because you have to show the perp and victim's "state of mind" and motivation. That's also why hate crime laws are so controversial. You're punishing someone not just for what they've done, but for why they've done it and how they've made the victim feel by words and other non-criminal things.
Ravi's lawyer argued that Ravi was never motivated by anti-gay sentiment and that he was just being immature. A string of students testified that they never heard Ravi say anything negative about gays or about Clementi.
But students also said Ravi expressed concern about sharing a room with a gay man and in a Twitter post, Ravi wrote, "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay." All told, this was not a clear cut case of a hate crime, say legal experts, so it's fairly surprising that he was convicted.
Legally, the suicide is irrelevant, but practically speaking prosecutors probably would not have taken this case without the suicide, and almost certainly wouldn't have trumped it up to a hate crime if Clementi was not physically harmed. Ravi was never charged with causing the suicide.
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