October 14, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- In many sex crimes
cases, complex issues regarding physical evidence often require both sides to present expert testimony regarding genetic testing and other technical matters. This is true whether the case involves issues of child sex abuse
, sexual assault or date rape
However, until recently, Pennsylvania was the only state in the U.S. that did not allow expert psychological testimony regarding the behavior of alleged sex assault victims. A new law that was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett last summer and took effect in August outlines the use of behavioral expert testimony in sex crimes trials.
The new sex crimes expert witness statute applies to all crimes for which sex offender registration would be required of a convicted defendant, as well as criminal proceedings for all sexual offenses listed under 18 Pennsylvania Criminal Statutes Chapter 31. This includes a range of defined offenses, including rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and indecent exposure.
The new law allows expert witnesses to be qualified by the court if they have specialized knowledge beyond that of the average layperson based on their experience, specialized training or education in criminal justice, behavioral sciences or victim services issues related to sexual violence. The court must determine whether the expert witness will be able to help the trier of fact understand "the dynamics of sexual violence, victim responses to sexual violence and the impact of sexual violence on victims during and after being assaulted."
Victim's rights groups argue that the Jerry Sandusky sex crimes trial put a spotlight on the issue because the defendant was allowed to present evidence of his own personality disorder, but explanations of victim behaviors such as failure to report the crime or avoid their alleged abuser were not admissible. Nonetheless, this law opens up a new front in criminal defense of sex crimes cases involving highly technical and potentially prejudicial evidence.
Now that prosecutors have the ability to call expert witnesses in child sex crimes and domestic violence cases to explain victim behavior, accused abusers face additional challenges to overcoming a finding of guilt. By working closely with a sex crimes lawyer to mount an aggressive criminal defense strategy, defendants can oppose the need for expert testimony under given circumstances while pressing conventional tactics for defeating the prosecution's burden of proof.
Article provided by Randolph L. Goldman
Visit us at www.rgoldmanlawyer.com---
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