The “I didn’t do it” Defence to Sexual Assault

It can be devastating to be accused of sexual assault when you didn’t do it, whether the allegation comes from an acquittance, a stranger or a family member. Although you are presumed innocent and the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it is often best to approach the case from the perspective of proving your innocence. That means working with your lawyer to both discredit the allegations and demonstrate through witnesses and other evidence why you could not have committed the offence. A number of areas that may prove fruitful at trial include:

External Inconsistencies: Is there any evidence that can contradict any of the details of the complainant’s story, whether about the actual sexual assault or not? It may come in the form of a witness or may be from a piece of real evidence such as a photo or video taken from a camera phone or a text message.

Internal Inconsistencies: One of the most valuable means of assessing witness credibility is to examine the consistency between what the witness said in the witness box and what she has said on other occasions, whether or not under oath. Inconsistencies may emerge in a witness’ testimony at trial, or between their trial testimony and statements previously given. Inconsistencies may also emerge from things said differently at different times, or from omitting to refer to certain events at one time while referring to them on other occasions.

Implausibility: Is what the complainant saying implausible? For instance, is it alleged that the sexual assault occurred in a public place where there would have been many witnesses? Or would the layout of the room where the assault is alleged to have occurred make it impossible?

Alibi: is there a way to show that you were somewhere else when the alleged sexual assault took place? This kind of evidence might come from other witnesses, work documents or cell phone use, for example.

Motive: In some cases, it may be helpful if the defence can point to a motive on the part of the complainant to fabricate the allegations. Examples include having regret about the incident after the fact because he or she is in a relationship or to gain leverage in a marital or custody dispute.

An experienced lawyer will be able to assist you in determining which of these factors will be most helpful on the facts of your particular case in mounting a successful defence.


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