The Procedure To Defend An Individual Falsely Accused Of A Sex Crime

Interviewer: What would be, say, in the situation where someone has been falsely accused, let’s say rape for instance. How do you build a case with that defendant?

Zach Peagler: The most important thing is to get all of the evidence that the state has against the defendant. If there’s DNA evidence, if there’s photo identification, line ups, if there’s been an in-person line up, if the defendant has made a statement to the police. Then, what the defendant’s side of the story is. You just need to gather all of the evidence and go through it piece by piece to make sure that you are conferring with your client to say, here’s what the state has. Here’s the DNA sample that matches your DNA. Here’s some photo identification line up and go over with the defendant why those things could be wrong. In most cases where there’s a DNA match, the only viable defense is, one of consent. If the defendant knew the victim or had prior sexual relations with the victim, those type of things become very relevant to the case.

Typical Scenario of a Sex Crime Involving Students of a College or University

Interviewer: What’s the typical scenario in a college or the university student situation?

Zach Peagler: I don’t know if any criminal case has a typical scenario, but you hear a lot of cases that come out of the college environment that, unfortunately, involve alcohol and drugs. That’s a prevalent part of the college atmosphere and lifestyle for many students. There’s a lot of partying on the weekends. A lot of people unfortunately end up in sexual relationships that they may regret later, or that they may not typically do. There’s some very justifiable cases of being drugged and not being in the right frame of mind when a sexual encounter happens.

Students may level False Accusations of Sexual Abuse But There May Also be Credible Accusations

Then, unfortunately, there are probably others that are cases of regret that someone’s made a mistake and some false accusations come of that. It’s very serious on both sides. I don’t ever undermine the legitimacy of rape claims by any means at all, but it’s an unfortunate part of the overall culture; that there are some false accusations to go along with the very credible accusations.

Role of an Attorney in Preparing a Client For a Sex Crime Case

Interviewer: What are some of the things that you could do for a client to help them prepare?

Zach Peagler: Again, I think it can’t be overstated as just going through the evidence. The proof is in the pudding, the devil is in the details. All of those sayings are true. You can’t just go on what you’ve heard about the case. You need to get into what the evidence of the case is, because the state bears the burden of proving a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They’re going to have to compile a case from A to Z. Oftentimes, the statement of a victim will not be enough. It’s got to be some other corroborating evidence to go with it.

In Order to Prosecute a Sex Crimes Case, the Statement of the Victim is Insufficient without Corroborative Evidence

As I said before, and oftentimes now, they have DNA in these cases. Making sure that there is a DNA match with the client. Making sure that there wasn’t a consensual relationship between the defendant and the victim. In any argument about consent, gathering independent witnesses that could testify to a relationship between the victim and the defendant. Things of that nature that could change the story and provide evidence that the defendant may not be guilty.

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