Being far away from home and family while living on a college campus can be an adventurous and rewarding experience. However, more often than not, it is typically very challenging in any number of ways. Probably, one of the worst things that can happen to you at college is facing false accusations of a crime. If a falsely alleged crime involves sex assault allegations, it may prove disastrous, not only for your college career, but your personal life and potential future professional life as well.
It was the piece in the Rolling Stone that caught the attention of the nation. A reporter followed the story of a young woman that claimed to be the victim of a fraternity gang rape on the campus of the University of Virginia. The resulting piece, "A Rape on Campus," hit newsstands at the end of 2014.
Let me start with a disclaimer: I believe that "rape culture" is a real and dangerous thing. I believe that "no means no" and that when initiating sexual contact an affirmative "yes" ought to be required, despite the awkwardness such requests might present. I have "taken back the night" in multiple demonstrations over the years, and I sure as shit think that it is a very low bar, indeed, to suggest that a person be conscious when another party initiates sexual contact and/or intercourse. This is an obvious point, but an important one--simply put, I do not condone sexual assault. Before I went to law school, I worked in Victim's Rights at a DV shelter that also had a crisis line for survivors of both sexual assault and domestic violence. One of the things that motivated me to attend law school was a desire to be able to more actively participate in victim advocacy, because being in court with my clients without the ability to speak up for them was so frustrating. If you had asked me 15 years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea that I would ever be a defense attorney instead of a prosecutor. Despite that, I have spent the past decade defending individuals accused of crimes. My case load is not comprised of the casual college-student pot smokers I envisioned representing, but rather is largely composed of sex crimes, crimes of domestic violence, child abuse, and homicide.
When a crime is being prosecuted, there inevitably are witnesses involved. This may include people involved in a crime, or who witnessed certain actions, and in some cases this people who were involved in other aspects such as a doctor who treated injuries, or a police officer who helped investigate aspects of the case. Despite the dramatic depiction of people storming into a courtroom, witnesses only appear at trial or at evidentiary hearings. Each side is required to disclose its witnesses prior to trial, giving the prosecution and the defense the opportunity to prepare for what witnesses may or may not say when taking the witness stand.
Credibility of a Victim In A Sexual Assault Case
How a Judge is Assigned
Privilege is a word you hear a lot in the criminal justice system, and this post will go into what it is, what it applies to, and how it works. Specifically, there are two types of privilege we will be discussing: privileged conversations and privilege documentation.