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The Dangers of Being Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault are Real

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Sexual assault victims have received a great deal of attention in recent years, as a number of advocacy groups have risen up to speak out on their behalf. This has resulted in prosecutors becoming even more vigilant in bring charges against alleged perpetrators. The problem with this is that it is now easier than ever for someone to be falsely accused of sexual assault. If you think this couldn't happen to you, the information provided below could be rather eye opening.

According to Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), changes in the law have led to more people than ever being arrested for sexual assault, due to an expanded definition of this crime in many areas. This group also claims that current rape laws strip away the presumption of innocence and remove due process, which are two things that greatly increase the odds of wrongful incarceration.

A few of the changes SAVE claims restrict the rights of the accused and lead to a greater chance of wrongful incarceration include:

  • Shielding the identity of the accuser, thereby directly violating the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
  • Making it necessary for the defendant to prove an act was consensual rather than shifting the burden of proof to the accuser
  • Allowing evidence to be admitted showing that a defendant has previously committed another sexual assault, regardless of whether or not there was a criminal conviction
  • Giving instructions to the jury that advise them the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove his or her innocence, and that a guilty verdict must be returned if that didn't happen.

They also claim that a good number of sexual assault claims have no basis at all to begin with. They cite three studies, all of which were performed by different agencies over the course of several years. The results of these surveys show that between 41% and 60% of all rape allegations are false, meaning that a good number of people are arrested for crimes that never happened in the first place.

Civil Commitment after Penal Release

To make being wrongly accused of sexual assault even more traumatic, some sex offenders are now being held behind bars even after they have served their sentence. Known as “civil commitment” new laws now allow offenders to remain behind bars once their sentence has been completed in order to undergo treatment and counseling. Some are detained based upon the advice of an expert witness, who is usually a psychologist that is an employee of the state. Those required to remain behind bars due to civil commitment laws can effectively remain locked up for life in many cases.

Those who are accused of sexual assault face a tough battle in the courtroom, as prosecutors are eager to appear “tough on crime” and secure a conviction. A guilty verdict can haunt you for the rest of your life, as you could face an extensive prison sentence or a lifetime of sex offender registry. You should take nothing to chance, but instead consult with an experienced sexual assault attorney who will vigorously defend your rights and innocence.

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