Criminal Law (CRJS - 2003 - 1)
For this week’s assignment I am going to discuss one federal and one state rule of evidence or statute and what affects they may have on both the prosecution and defense of sexual assault cases.
Federal and State rules of evidence statues can affect both the prosecution’s ability to try a sexual assault case successfully, and a defender’s ability to defend their client successfully. The Federal Rules of Evidence › ARTICLE IV. RELEVANCE AND ITS LIMITS › Rule 412. Sex-Offense Cases: The Victim, is one such statue, as- is, Minnesota Statue 609.347 EVIDENCE IN CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT CASES. Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 412 (a), in both civil and criminal proceedings that involve alleged sexual misconduct, prohibits the admissibility of offering evidence that proves the victim had engaged in other sexual activity or offering evidence that proves any of the victim’s sexual predispositions ("Rule 412. Sex-Offense Cases: The Victim | Federal Rules of Evidence | LII / Legal Information Institute," n.d.). This could be beneficial to the prosecution because it prevents the defense from presenting evidence that may bias the jury against the victim, such as, previously known promiscuity, known prostitute, etc…. However, Rule 412 (b) allows for three exceptions that could benefit the defense. First being, evidence of a victim’s previous sexual engagement’s may be admissible if offers proof that someone else other than the defendant was source of physical evidence, such as, semen for instance. Second, specific instances of a victim’s sexual behavior with respect to the accused, may be admissible if, offered to prove consent or offered by the prosecution. The third exception is, if the exclusion the evidence would violate the defendant’s constitutional rights ("Rule 412. Sex-Offense Cases: The Victim | Federal Rules of Evidence | LII / Legal Information Institute," n.d.)
2014 Minnesota Statue 609.347 EVIDENCE IN CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT CASES states in Subd. 1, that in victim testimony, corroboration unnecessary. The benefit to the prosecution is quite obvious within this statue, essentially freeing them from having to prove the victim’s claim that an assault did in fact occur. However, this statue does little to benefit the defense, but in Subd. 3 of Minnesota statue 609.347 there are some subsections that may be of help to the defense. Although, as a whole, Minnesota Statue 609.347 Subd. 3 disallows for evidence of a victim's previous sexual conduct, when consent of the victim is the defense, it allows for the following to be admitted; “(i) Evidence of the victim's previous sexual conduct tending to establish a common scheme or plan of similar sexual conduct under circumstances similar to the case at issue. In order to find a common scheme or plan, the judge must find that the victim made prior allegations of sexual assault which were fabricated; and (ii) Evidence of the victim's previous sexual conduct with the accused. (b) When the prosecution's case includes evidence of semen, pregnancy, or disease at the time of the incident or, in the case of pregnancy, between the time of the incident and trial, evidence of specific instances of the victim's previous sexual conduct is admissible solely to show the source of the semen, pregnancy, or disease” (Minn. Stat. § 609.347, Subd. 3 (a) (i) (ii) (b) (2014)). In conclusion, doing this assignment this week has really shown me just how much our government tries to enact laws that are balanced and fair. As the previous shows these laws are not simply designed to benefit one side, they have aspects that are beneficial to all involved, the prosecution, the defense, the victim, and the accused. Additionally I have learned, there is something harder than citing psych papers….. and that is citing law references .
Rule 412. Sex-Offense Cases: The Victim | Federal Rules of Evidence | LII / Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_412 609.347 - 2014 Minnesota Statutes. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=617.23