Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and potential candidate of the Socialist Party against French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 election, is to be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on the charges of Attempted Rape in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 130.35), Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 130.50) and Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 135.05). Detectives had tugged Mr. Strauss-Kahn out of first class minutes before his Paris bound flight was to leave from JFK Airport. Depending the sources, it is alleged that Mr. Strauss-Kahn, also known as “DSK,” was in his room at the Sofitel in Manhattan when a maid entered the room believing nobody was there. It is further claimed through various media outlets that Mr. Strauss-Kahn forced a women into a room and attempted to lock her inside. During this time, Mr. Strauss-Kahn allegedly attempted to have intercourse and sex with the woman and successfully forced the maid to give him oral sex.
The Crimes Dominique Strauss-Kahn Faces in New York While Mr. Strauss-Kahn may be the biggest individual “fish” caught by the recently christened District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., the crimes the accused faces are no different than if he was the average denizen of Gotham. Assuming the information above is accurate (this is an assumption as there has been no press release fired off by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as of yet), the crimes and potential punishment are as follows:
NY PL 130.50 – Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree You are guilty of Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree when you receive or give oral sex (or anal sex) with another person and it is done so through forcible compulsion. The sexual interaction need not be completed. A “B” felony, should Mr. Strauss-Kahn be indicted and convicted for this crime he will face a minimum of five years in state prison and a maximum of twenty five years. This is a mandatory sentence for a first time offender.
NY PL 130.35 – Rape in the First Degree You are guilty of Rape in the First Degree when you have sexual intercourse with another person and you do so through forcible compulsion. Just like in the crime of Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, the accused need not complete the sexual action or intercourse. Moreover, he need not fully penetrate the victim.
In the realm of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s case, it appears as if he did not actually rape the maid and is alleged to have attempted to do the same. Because there is no alleged vaginal intercourse, Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s actions would be “knocked down” a level to an attempted crime. When a crime is not completed and is merely an attempt, the degree of the offense drops a level. Here, the charged crime has become Attempted Rape in the First Degree. A “C” violent felony, Mr. Strauss-Kahn faces up to fifteen years in state prison if convicted and a minimum of three and one half years.
NY PL 135.05 – Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree You are guilty of Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree when you restrain another person. “Restrain” is a defined term in the New York Penal Law. As such, the definition states in part that to restrain a person you must intentionally and unlawfully restrict their movement in a way that substantially interferes with their liberty by confining them in a place where the restriction began. This restraint must be done without the victim’s consent and with the knowledge that your actions are unlawful.
If Mr. Strauss-Kahn forced the maid into a room and held her there as set forth above, the (likely soon to be former) International Monetary Fund chief would have this “insignificant” crime to contend with. “Only” an “A” misdemeanor, Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree is punishable by up to a year in Jail. That time spent in jail in New York City is not as comfortable as the $3,000 a night Sofitel, but much “lower-end” in a tax payer funded Rikers Island.
Potential Bail & Related Issues Once Mr. Strauss-Kahn is arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, the prosecution will certainly ask for bail. A judge, after hearing from the defense (they can reserve their bail application), will decide whether or not to set bail. Legally, the purpose of bail is to ensure the accused will return to court. Things considered by the court are the defendant’s risk of flight, the likelihood he will return and what, if any, public safety concerns should exist if he is released. Although not specifically mentioned in any statute, the media attention can certainly impact the decision of those who ask for and set bail (update: it is interesting to note that subsequent to drafting this entry, reports indicate that DA Vance altered the bail request of $250,000 initially demanded by the assigned prosecutor to $2,000,000 – a very atypical action). Regardless of whether or not a judge remands (holds without bail), sets a reasonable bail for or releases Mr. Strauss-Kahn, it is likely he will have to surrender his passport (update: law enforcement is in possession of DSK’s passport).
Although his chances of running for the presidency of France likely dwindles by the minute, it is overwhelmingly unlikely this case will be resolve in time for Mr. Strauss-Kahn to announce his candidacy by the June deadline. Prosecutors have at least six months to obtain an indictment and answer ready for trial. The practical reality is that a case like this can easily exceed that time frame.
Obviously, having no inside information as to the crimes and allegations other than what is available to the media, the offenses and charges can differ from what is posted here. For extensive information on these and other crimes, please feel free to review the materials through the highlighted links or peruse the Saland Law PC website or the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog where commentary on legal decisions, criminal statutes and press worthy cases can be found.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm. Founded by two former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys, the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent the defendants and targets of criminal investigations throughout the New York City region.