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Ex-NFL Player Darren Sharper Indicted on Sex Assault Charges

Former NFL player Darren Sharper has been charged in Tempe, Arizona for sexual assault and administering dangerous drugs relating to the assault.

Sharper is also under investigation for other alleged sexual assault cases in California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Florida, according to CNN.

A grand jury in Tempe indicted Sharper on the criminal charges, and the next step is trial.

The Charges

It's alleged that Sharper committed two rapes and administered dangerous drugs during the assault in Arizona, CNN reports. In general, a defendant can be convicted of sexual assault when he or she subjects the victim to unwanted and offensive touching.

Under the Arizona statute, a person is guilty of sexual assault if he or she:

  • Intentionally or knowingly
  • Engages in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person
  • Without the person's consent.
It doesn't appear that Sharper has any previous criminal convictions in Arizona, and first-time offenders may receive between five to 14 years in prison if convicted. However, the incarceration time might be increased if he's convicted of the sexual assault charges in other states and an Arizona judge takes those convictions into consideration.

For defendants with two or more prior felony convictions, a sexual assault conviction could mean 14 to 28 years in prison. While it's unclear what "dangerous drugs" Sharper allegedly administered in connection with the assault, under Arizona's sexual assault statute, if a defendant used drugs like rohypnol without the victim's knowledge, three years could be added to his or her sentence.

Grand Jury Process

Grand juries are different from juries you see during a criminal trial. Grand juries help prosecutors decide what charges to bring against a criminal defendant and whether to indict the suspect.

At grand jury proceedings, no determination of guilt or innocence is made. There's also no judge present. The prosecutor explains the law to the grand jury and presents evidence and testimony.

Unlike regular trial juries, grand jury proceedings are kept in strict confidence to allow witnesses to speak freely without fear of retaliation -- as well as to protect the defendant's reputation in case he or she is not indicted. In Arizona, if nine of the 16 grand jury members agree on an indictment, a criminal trial will proceed, according to the Court Appointed Social Advocates of Arizona. However, a prosecutor doesn't need a grand jury indictment in order to proceed to trial.

Despite being indicted on sexual assault charges in Arizona, as of Thursday, Darren Sharper was still in jail in Los Angeles, according to CNN.

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