Credibility is central to sexual assault cases. If the court does not believe the complainant, the accused must be acquitted. If the court believes the accused, the case must be dismissed. If the court is unsure whom to believe, the accused must be acquitted.
Sometimes independent evidence assists in determining the truth. However, often there is no independent evidence. As such, ensuring your lawyer has properly prepared you to tell your side of the story is essential to a successful defence.
Determining Credibility in Sexual Assault Cases
As with all criminal cases, the Crown must prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. In the context of sexual assault, this means proving that –
- An assault took place
- The complainant did not consent
- The incident was sexual in nature
Crown prosecution can call upon various means to prove their case, including forensics and CCTV footage. Often, however, a sexual assault case hinges on witness testimonies. This is particularly true in he said/she said situations.
Both the accused and the complainant provide statements before the trial, and testify in court. If either person’s statements/testimony are inconsistent, incomplete or fraudulent, his or her credibility will be called into question.
If doubt is raised regarding the complainant’s credibility, the court must find the accused not guilty. This is because the evidence of the complainant has raised reasonable doubt, meaning the Crown has not met their burden of proof.
Why Is It Important To Retain An Experienced Lawyer To Handle A Sexual Assault Case?
If you have been accused of a sexual assault, we recommend that you ask a criminal lawyer to help you. Sexual assault is a serious charge. Being found guilty of such an offence can have serious implications for the rest of your life.
Criminal lawyers understand the defence strategies that can be used in sexual assault cases – one of which is to challenge the complainant’s reliability. There might be a query as to the identify of the offender, whether the incident took place, or whether it was in fact consensual.
Either way, the judge must decide what actually happened. It might be that the judge does not wholeheartedly believe you, as the accused, yet also does not believe the complainant. If so, that is sufficient for your defence, because reasonable doubt has been raised.
Criminal Defence Lawyer Vancouver
If you have been accused of sexual assault, contact us at Mickelson & Whysall. We know how to formulate a defence and can represent you throughout legal proceedings.