Sexual Assault is a crime that has received a lot of hype in the past decade. And, it became a hot topic for a reason. Many people were victimized by rape, and only in recent years have many people gotten justice. But, as society grows more concerned with rape, there is a dangerous shift we see as criminal defense lawyers in Denver, Jefferson, and Boulder County. Now, society lives by the mantra: “All rape is rape.” This idea sounds just, but in reality, it helps to create a scary new environment – one that is ripe for false accusations. Let's take a look at how Sexual Assault cases are handled, and why a new approach needs to be adopted to account for modern society, and leaves room for the possibility that a person has been falsely accused.
In Reality, There are a Few Types of Rape
As skilled criminal defense lawyers with 40 years of combined courtroom experience in Arapahoe, Douglas, and Adams County, we have seen many different kinds of rape cases throughout the years. I read an article recently which perfectly illustrates our experience. In the UK, a well-known soccer player was convicted of rape, and was sentenced to 5 years in jail. The case is quite involved, but here's the gist of the case:
The Case of the Soccer Player
The soccer player received a text from a friend, who said he had a woman with him. He met his friend at a hotel, where the other man was engaged in a sexual encounter with said woman. According to the soccer player, he then took his turn with the woman, before both men left the hotel for the night. The young woman says she woke up the next day with no remembrance of the night before. She says she didn't consent to the soccer player's advances, he said she was a willing participant.
This Rape Case isn't Clear
There are a few things which are important to know when you look at a case like this. First, the girl's actions are hardly examined in the courtroom. In a surveillance video from the hotel, the woman appears to be completely aware – she isn't being led to the hotel against her will. Second, the hotel porter heard no noises from the hotel room which suggest she was being abused or held against her will. Thirdly, the day after the alleged assault, she Tweeted a friend (the tweets were deleted before the trial) about “making it big,” which suggest she was all right with the previous night's engagements. Unfortunately, evidence which hurts the character of the victim isn't always allowed in the courtroom. This isn't justice, but it's the way these cases tend to play out in today's day and age.
Casual Hookups are the Norm in Today's Society
Casual hookups, one-night stands, infidelity, and sexting with strangers is society's new normal. It doesn't mesh with how Sexual Assault and Unlawful Sexual Contact cases are handled, however.
Today's society is a difficult one to mesh with the way Sexual Assault cases are handled. Casual hookups are the norm. One-night stands and sex with strangers are a fairly normal part of life. Watch a movie from the past few years, or catch a recent episode of the latest TV show, and you'll see this lifestyle is normal. Even teenagers are engaging in sexual behavior (such as sexting) at younger ages than ever before. Unfortunately, this lifestyle creates an environment perfect for false accusations. All it takes is the word of one person – the alleged victim – and a person in Colorado and in many states in the U.S. could go to prison for the rest of their lives. Proof is no longer required as cases are decided on emotion. In the article I reference above, the author mentioned the story of the woman who was allegedly raped by the soccer player to a few of her friends. The other women (who were the same age as the alleged victim) had a different opinion than that of the court: They believe the girl knew what she was doing. One girl said that “lots of girls” from her school went to posh clubs to “try and bag themselves the ultimate prize: a footballer” (soccer player). Another girl said that it sounded like the alleged victim woke up, realized the mistake she had made, “felt really embarrassed about herself and called the police.” We have seen this often as defense lawyers; women who call the police out of guilt, revenge, or boredom. Unfortunately, false accusations can ruin another person's life.
Lifetime Prison Sentences for Vague Rape Cases?
People can be sentenced to a lifetime in prison based on the world of the alleged victim alone.
In Colorado, the crime of Sexual Assault is subject to indeterminate sentencing. This means a person will be sentenced for an unlimited amount of time, e.g. 4 years to life. Their release depends on completing sex offender treatment, and a decision from the Colorado Parole Board about whether or not they are “fit” to rejoin society. For violent rape cases, this is an understandable sentence. But, when a person is sentenced to a possible life sentence based on the word of the alleged victim alone, it isn't understandable. There is never much evidence in Sexual Assault cases, because there usually aren't witnesses. And, there usually isn't an argument about whether sex occurred, because in many cases, the encounter was consensual. All it takes is for one person to feel guilty or want revenge, and another person is arrested for a serious sex offense.
Why You Need a Lawyer for Sexual Assault Cases
As you can see, all rape cases aren't the same. There are at least three types of rape cases, and the possibility of many more.
- There are cases of violent rape, where a person is victimized and brutalized.
- There are cases where the lines are vague – was the woman too drunk to consent? Or, did one person feel guilt the next morning and call the police?
- And then, there are cases of complete false accusation, where a person is accused even when nothing has happened.
We have seen all three types, and the last two are far more common than I care to discuss. I wrote about a case where a man had a date with a woman that ended in sex, and for no reason she called the police the next day. It isn't justice to treat the victim in a violent rape case the same as someone who went out drinking with the intent to hookup, and then changed their mind the next day. This isn't justice: Not for the defendant, and definitely not for true victims of rape. Because the criminal justice system hasn't caught up to the “casual hookup” culture of today, and because they refuse to believe that there are different types of rape due to pressure from special interest groups, you need a lawyer if you have been accused. Don't stand alone in court and try to defend yourself. You need an advocate who can fight on your behalf to ensure you get the best possible outcome in your case. Here at the O'Malley Law Office, we fight to win.Request a Free Consultation