In the courtroom, prosecutors often use science when seeking to prove certainty. However, the same key evidence that can prove a sex assault allegation can also prove the allegation is false. A skilled criminal defense attorney can often disprove false allegations several different ways. The most common are below:
DNA evidence or lack of DNA evidence
It is common, prosecutors usually go into voir dire (jury selection) telling juries not to expect the “CSI effect”. Prosecutors do not want juries to expect to see a large amount of scientific data that simply does not exist. This is known as managing expectations. While police departments in large cities have teams of investigators and technicians their focus is often on putting the evidence together to convict the accused rather than exonerate him. The strongest evidence that a sex assault occurred is usually DNA evidence.
The reason DNA evidence is so important is that the prosecutor must prove two things:
- That the accused had sex with the accuser and
- The sex was not consensual.
Without DNA evidence it is very difficult for the government to prove that the sex act occurred. Often, after allegations are made law enforcement will work with medical professionals to get DNA samples from the alleged victim to determine whether the accused DNA is present. At this point prosecutors are looking for two types of DNA. First, there is the DNA that comes from bodily fluids such as saliva, blood and semen. Second, there is the DNA that comes from skin cells, which is often known as epithelial DNA.
DNA is extremely important is sex assault cases because in some cases there are no injuries. Most medical professionals admit that the same injuries that are consistent with rape, are not always present after a rape occurs. In some instances the injury could’ve been caused by someone other than the accused.
In false allegations sex assault cases sometimes the issue comes down to whether the accused had sex with the accuser. In these instances if there are injuries consistent with sex assault present police will that assume it occurred. However when the accused’s DNA is not found after the sex assault kit is used to find evidence, there is usually reasonable doubt as to whether the assault occurred.
This DNA evidence can be extremely important because in some scenarios, the accuser had consensual sex within 24 hours of the alleged assault. For example, in one instance an accuser had injuries consistent with sex assault, but the only DNA evidence found came from her abusive boyfriend. So while the prosecution was able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accuser had had sex with her boyfriend, the prosecution could only point a finger at the accused and ask the jury to speculate.
Cellphone and smartphone records
False sex assault allegations can often be proved with cellphone records. The accuser’s text messages, social media postings and Internet searches may all point to a false allegation.
A social media post showing several pictures of the accuser partying with friends until 4 in the morning the next, casts doubt over whether the assault occurred.
Internet search history can also provide a great deal of information about why someone would fabricate a rape story. In some instances, the accuser may have set up a Tinder account the day after the alleged rape. Or even used search engines such as Google to search for “how to report a rape” days before the alleged sex assault occurred.
Finally, photographs on a smartphone are usually pretty telling and may point to a false allegation. Photographs posted on Snapchat, Instagram or even on the hard drive may have time and date stamps which may demonstrate that the accused was not even with the accuser at the time of the alleged assault.
While there has been a lot of research in the past couple decades about how eyewitness testimony is not reliable, if a witness observed a sexual assault and contacted law enforcement, it will likely corroborate the accusers story. However, in sex assault cases sometimes days after an accusation is made, sometimes another witness will come forward and claim that they observed the assault. Often, the witnesses are not credible because any reasonable person who observes someone getting raped would interfere or call law enforcement immediately.
The opposite of this is true for alibi witnesses where the alleged victim claims the sex assault occurred at a certain time where the accused was not present, but was rather in the company of other people who can verify that he or she was not at that time. Additionally, going back to the cellphone, cellphones normally contain GPS data which can tell you where a phone was at a specific time. Sometimes this does confirm alibis.
The final type of witness that can be relevant in a sex assault case is a character witness this is a person that can talk about the accused relevant character traits. And while character is never an issue unless a defendant brings it up in a criminal case, sometimes it can be the most important evidence.
If you need to fight sex assault allegations, contact the aggressive experienced criminal defense attorneys at Berry Law Firm.