A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer was convicted this week of raping two women, and has been sentenced to 6 years in State Prison. The 33 year old Fountain Valley man plead guilty to the 2009 rape of a woman whom he met and then raped after she blacked out from alcohol intoxication. The second woman, a prostitute, he met in 2010 when he picked her up and drove her to an industrial area. When the woman became frightened and tried to escape, he raped her and then fled the scene. The woman immediately reported the rape to authorities. The DNA collected from the 2010 rape was linked to the DNA which defendant had provided in the 2009 rape investigation.
Although this case appears to be pretty straight forward, reviewing all of the evidence and carefully taking apart, bit-by-bit, the evidence could have resulted in a different outcome for this man. We know that this man had sexual intercourse with these women because of the DNA evidence. But, too often innocent people are accused of rape for a variety of reasons. Discussed below are some defenses to the charge of rape, as well as the elements that must be proved for a conviction of rape.
Legal Defenses to rape: There are a number of possible defenses to rape to be considered when one is accused of rape. Because there requires little to no evidence to accuse someone of rape, innocent people are falsely accused. Emotional issues often play a role in false accusations, whether it is intentional or not. The fear of someone finding out about the sexual relationship or the guilt associated with having a sexual relationship with someone, can result in a person being falsely accused. Mistaken identity is also common in these types of cases.
1. False Accusation: Unfortunately, there are situations where a person is falsely accused of rape. An example might be that, after having consensual sex, one of the parties has feelings of guilt because they were involved in a committed relationship. But, rather than admitting to the infidelity, accuses the other party of rape. Also, a false accusation could result after being pressured and coerced by another to say they were raped.
2. The Accused Believed There Was Consent: If the accused did not have a clear understanding that the accuser did not want to have sexual intercourse, this may be a defense. Although, any indication from a party, at any time, that they want to stop, would constitute no consent.
3. There was no actual intercourse.
4. Lack of Sufficient Evidence: If there is no physical evidence and no witnesses, then it becomes one person’s word against the other and therefore, too difficult to prosecute.
5. Mistaken Identity: Because rape victims are traumatized and emotional, it is not uncommon to unintentionally identify the wrong person. If there was poor lighting during the attack, identification is more difficult. If the attacker is wearing a mask, identification becomes extremely difficult. Also, police lineups are often prejudicial and result in mistaken identity.
What Does A Prosecutor Have To Prove For A Rape Conviction
To be convicted of rape, it must be proven that: 1) The parties engaged in sexual intercourse; 2) That the sexual intercourse was accomplished by physical force, violence duress, menace, fear of bodily harm, fear of retaliation or fraud. There must also be a lack of consent.
What Is Lack Of Consent– The obvious is that the victim did not give consent. Other than saying “No”, other situations include: 1) The victim was too intoxicated to consent; 2) Due to some sort of a mental disorder, the victim lacks the capacity to give consent; and 3) The victim was unconscious, asleep or fraudulently convinced that having sex was necessary or acceptable.
The consequences of a rape conviction can be severe and can permanently damage a person’s life. Because of the issues dealing with the emotional and physical evidence of such a crime, often innocent people are accused of this very serious crime. For this reason, it is strongly advised that anyone who has been accused of rape, whether or not an arrest has occurred, should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Often, an attorney who has a good working relationship with the District Attorney’s Office, can speak with the District Attorney reviewing the case for filing, and present information that may result in the case being rejected.
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