the law

Everything to Expect From Harvey Weinstein’s Sentencing

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Update: Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison. Read our original post below.

Harvey Weinstein is scheduled to be sentenced in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday morning following his rape and sexual-assault conviction on February 24. A jury found Weinstein guilty of third-degree rape and a criminal sexual act in the first degree for attacks on two women, onetime actress Jessica Mann and former Project Runway production assistant Mimi Haleyi. Mann testified that Weinstein raped her at a Midtown East hotel in early 2013; Haleyi said on the witness stand that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in the summer of 2006. Weinstein was found not guilty of three counts — one count of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault. Weinstein was taken into custody right after the verdict came down. He was initially held in Bellevue Hospital’s prison ward owing to chest pain, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure. On March 4, doctors gave Weinstein a heart stent (effectively, a tube that keeps arteries open); the next day, he was transferred to an infirmary ward on Rikers Island. Here, the rundown of everything to know about Weinstein’s upcoming sentencing and what’s next for the movie producer turned convicted rapist.

Is Harvey Weinstein going to prison?
Weinstein faces a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 29. The range is wide because Weinstein was convicted of two different charges that carry different possible sentences. The most serious crime Weinstein was convicted of, a criminal sexual act in the first degree, has a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 25. Third-degree rape does not have a minimum prison sentence, and the maximum time behind bars for this charge is four years. Had Weinstein been convicted of predatory sexual assault, his maximum possible sentence would have been life in prison.

So how is his sentence determined? 
Justice James Burke, who presided over this case, has the power to give Weinstein a sentence greater than the five-year minimum. Burke will take several things into account in making his decision. Before sentencing, both Weinstein’s team and prosecutors submit their arguments for what they think his sentence should be. Longtime criminal-defense attorney Robert Gottlieb previously told Vulture that Weinstein’s lawyers could file “character letters” vouching for him in their bid for a less severe sentence. Weinstein’s victims can also submit statements in writing. Probation Department officials will also compile a “pre-sentence report” for the judge. This report will feature background info on Weinstein, including details on his work and family life, information on his crimes, as well as other accusations against him. Gottlieb said this report is “really just to assist the judge, along with all the other written submissions, in determining the most appropriate sentence.”

How much time do prosecutors want?
In a letter submitted on Friday, March 6, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office did not recommend a specific prison term. Prosecutors listed numerous instances of alleged past misdeeds, which include sexual harassment and assault, as well as non-sexual physical attacks and threats, over a period of more than 40 years. They said that Weinstein “displayed a staggering lack of empathy, treating others with disdain and inhumanity,” and “consistently advanced his own sordid desires and fixations over the well-being of others.” They said that these alleged acts “show a lifetime of abuse towards others, sexual and otherwise,” and as a result, “the People will ask the Court to impose a sentence that reflects the seriousness of defendant’s offenses, his total lack of remorse for the harm he has caused, and the need to deter him and others from engaging in further criminal conduct.”

It’s impossible to predict what Weinstein will get and hard to make apples-to-apples comparison to other cases. One recent conviction for a first-degree criminal sexual act in New York — involving a man who pleaded guilty to sodomizing an 11-year-old girl at knifepoint — resulted in a sentence of ten-to-20 years in prison. Another New York case — which involved not only a conviction for a first-degree criminal sexual act but also for first-degree rape and sexual abuse — resulted in a ten-year sentence. Charges and sentences vary from state to state, but Weinstein already faces more potential prison time than another high-profile convict, Bill Cosby, the disgraced ex-comedian who was sentenced to three-to-ten years in prison after being convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his Pennsylvania home.

How much time did his lawyers ask for?
They are asking for five years, which is the minimum sentence. In a letter arguing for leniency on Monday, his legal team said that Weinstein, “like most people, is complicated and the trial did not fairly portray who he is as a person.” “His life story, his accomplishments, and struggles are simply remarkable and should not be disregarded in total because of the jury’s verdict,” their missive said. They tout Weinstein’s philanthropic efforts and say he has already suffered since allegations against him surfaced in October 2017. “Weinstein’s life has been destroyed. His wife divorced him, he was fired from The Weinstein Company, and in short, he lost everything,” his lawyers wrote. “Not only that, but Mr. Weinstein was constantly maligned by the media, having long since been convicted in the court of public opinion before ever stepping foot in [court]. Mr. Weinstein cannot walk outside without being heckled, he has lost his means to earn a living, simply put, his fall from grace has been historic, perhaps unmatched in the age of social media.” They say Weinstein has also suffered from Mann’s claim that he doesn’t have testicles. “And on top of it all, he had to endure descriptions of his appearance, his hygiene, his genitalia, and the most deeply personal and intimate matters become the subject of national and international scrutiny and intrigue,” they wrote.

What happens at the sentencing?
Prosecutors will make more detailed arguments about what they think Weinstein’s sentence should be. Weinstein’s lawyers as well get the chance to make their own sentencing argument. Weinstein also has the opportunity to address the court if he wants to. Prosecutors said in last week’s letter that Haleyi and Mann would give the court statements during Weinstein’s sentencing. It’s not yet known whether Haleyi and Mann will speak or if their statements will simply be read. After all the legal arguments and statements are made, Burke will hand down Weinstein’s sentence.

What happens after Weinstein’s sentencing?
Weinstein will ultimately be transferred from New York City Department of Correction custody into the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) system. According to DOCCS, Weinstein will initially be taken to a “reception center” before his eventual transfer to another prison. (Per the New York Times, this center is downstate, in Fishkill, while Weinstein’s assigned prison will be upstate.) At the “reception center,” Weinstein will be “required to receive a shower and delousing treatment.” Weinstein, like all male inmates, will be “required to receive a shave and a haircut,” the agency document indicates. And “state-issued clothing, along with personal-care products, are provided to each inmate.” He will have a physical and a dental examination. Weinstein will also get an “inmate rulebook” and watch an “orientation video,” which includes information on “communicable diseases, suicide prevention, and sexual abuse.” Like other inmates, Weinstein will get a pamphlet, The Prevention of Sexual Abuse in Prison; What Inmates Need to Know, and watch a “gender-specific version of the film Ending Sexual Abuse Behind the Walls; An Orientation.” Security personnel will also determine whether Weinstein is at risk from other inmates, according to DOCCS.

Everything to Expect From Harvey Weinstein’s Sentencing