In recent years Virginia prosecutors have increasingly pursued "date-rape" and known person sexual assault cases. For a variety of reasons, these events most frequently involve college aged men and women. Several high profile persons have been accused of these offenses in 2012. Notably, two ODU football players are presently facing sexual assault charges.
This type of case involves sexual contact between known persons. The issue of criminality focuses upon whether the admitted sexual contact was the result of consensual or non-consensual acts. The age of the alleged victim and the nature of the described sexual contact often dictate the severity of the charge. Virginia's antiquated sodomy laws can make seemingly consensual actions between two individuals illegal.
In years past, prosecutors were wary of these cases because forensic evidence generally does not conclusively point toward a specific version of the events at issues. As a result the crux of trial is the believability of the complaining witness. These "he-said she-said" cases were beloved to be difficult for the Commonwealth.
Drug facilitated contact and alcohol are often key factors in the evidence considered by courts. "Date rape drugs" are substances that can increase the vulnerability of potential victims. Prosecutors argue that these drugs make victims confused, disoriented, or helpless. In the case of alcohol related acquaintance rape, the Commonwealth has a burden of proving that the alleged victim's intoxication was a factor in the offense.
Successful defense of these charges may take many forms. Frequently successful defense in balls aggressive cross-examination of the accusing witness. In my experience I have seen cases crippled or even dismissed following a well-planned and vigorous cross-examination. Savvy defense attorneys will also have experience working with sexual assault nurse examiners. The outcome of a rape or sexual assault case often turns upon the interpretation of expert testimony and lack of medical evidence.
I have prosecuted and defended numerous cases of this ilk. Accordingly, I have experience evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the Commonwealth's cases. If you need assistance with this type of case, please do not hesitate to contact me.