Sexual Assault Kits and Your Criminal Case (Part II)
In a previous blog post we discussed the limitations of a sexual assault kit in a criminal proceeding in which the defendant is charged with sexual assault. Specifically, these kits cannot tell investigators or prosecutors (1) how the defendant’s DNA found its way onto the victim’s person; (2) if there was sexual contact, whether that contact was consensual or not; and (3) in some cases, whether the foreign DNA found on the victim even belongs to the defendant. In some cases, therefore, the sexual assault kit and its results may provide little, if any, benefit to the prosecution.
In this post we will briefly explore how prosecutors will typically use a sexual assault kit in a sexual crime trial and show how a quick-thinking and resourceful criminal defense attorney can challenge the prosecution’s case.
The Prosecution Will Use the Sexual Assault Kit to Bolster the Victim’s Testimony
In many sexual crime cases, the only witnesses to the alleged criminal act are the victim and the defendant. The victim’s credibility in these cases is extremely important, and the prosecution will likely take every opportunity to bolster the victim’s credibility in the eyes of the jury. Even if the defendant admits that he or she had sexual relations with the victim, the prosecution will point to the sexual assault kit as evidence corroborating the victim’s story. Your defense counsel should point out to the jury (if applicable) that you have never denied having sexual relations with the victim, so the sexual assault kit proves nothing.
The Prosecution Will Make Unwarranted Conclusions from the Sexual Assault Kit
The sexual assault exam nurse will oftentimes make observations about what he or she sees or learns while collecting the sexual assault kit swabs. These observations include whether the nurse is able to see any tearing or injuries to the victim’s vagina and/or anus. The prosecution will most likely call the nurse as a witness during the trial to testify as to these observations. If injuries such as tears or abrasions are present, expect that the prosecution will point to these injuries as evidence of nonconsensual sexual contact. An experienced defense attorney will know, however, that the presence of tears or abrasions is not in and of itself indicative of nonconsensual sex and can communicate this to the judge or jury.
The Bottom Line: You Need Experienced and Knowledgeable Legal Counsel
The fact that a sexual assault kit may have been completed in your case does not necessarily mean that the prosecution’s case against you is airtight. Speak with South Florida criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner as soon as possible about your case. He can examine the evidence the prosecution intends to rely upon (including any sexual assault kit) and can help you create a defense trial strategy designed to neutralize any arguments the prosecution may seek to make. Contact his office today by calling (305) 670-9919 or contact his office online.