Some sex offense prosecutions rely heavily on forensic evidence. The alleged victim may have submitted to a medical examination and specimen collection by a trained nurse. Samples from the complainant, the defendant, and from clothing, bedding or other materials would be analyzed by the crime lab. In a single case, the crime lab might seek DNA evidence from sperm, vaginal fluid, and blood samples. They may also complete testing and analysis on hair, saliva and trace evidence.
One common area of disagreement that stems from evidence collected during the physical exam involves the significance of signs of trauma to the genitals and anus. While the prosecution’s medical witnesses no longer routinely attribute any and all signs of trauma to forcible penetration, they are still prone to alleging that certain types of physical findings are consistent with lack of consent. There is peer-reviewed scientific literature that refutes this and I would not let a medial witness get away with such a claim.
In cases with forensic evidence, I typically hire my own expert to examine the evidence and review the testing and compliance with procedures. I have used doctors, nurses, and DNA analysts to assist in preparing my cases. I have had DNA analysts present to observe the state lab’s testing of evidence and in some cases may even have my analyst do independent testing on the evidence. In some situations it is appropriate to call a defense expert to testify that: 1) the testing and procedures were improperly conducted; 2) further testing and procedures should have been done but were not; 3) the results of the independent testing differed from the Commonwealth’s results; or 4) the forensic evidence found is not consistent with the theory of prosecution.
Sexual assault cases with forensic evidence are tough to win but sometimes the forensic evidence is not as damning to the accused as the prosecution claims. If you or a loved one is charged with sexual assault, you need to hire a lawyer with experience defending sexual assault cases and challenging forensic evidence. Please contact me for a free consultation to discuss your case.