Rape Shield Laws Essay

Rape Shield Laws Essay

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Rape Shield Laws

Facing with much criticism from women’s group with the legal
definitions of rape and how rape cases are being processed in the
legal system, the government is forced to pass a Rape Law reform in
the 1970s. Rape law reform urging courts to treat rape case the same
as other crimes, rape law reforms modified traditional rape laws and
ratified evidentiary reforms in every state in the United States. The
most common and widespread changes occurred in three areas. First,
rape was redefined so that there was no longer a single crime of rape.
Second, the victim was no longer required to support her testimony.
The third and perhaps most important area of change, known as rape
shield laws, prevented defense attorney from introducing information
about a victim’s prior sexual behavior. These statutes were intended
to address the problem that jurors perceive a victim’s prior sexual
history to be probative of a victim’s credibility, moral character,
and consent. Proponents of the statutes argued that these perceptions
have a prejudicial impact on the jury decision-making process.
However, along with much strength of this statue, there are also many
weaknesses of the rape shield laws.

The strengths of the rape shield laws are that the statue tends to
exclude the defense counsel from introducing an alleged victim’s prior
sexual history into evidence. By limiting the defendant’s use of a
victim’s sexual past, the laws attempt to prevent this evidence from
being unfairly used to discredit the victim’s credibility. For
example, a man was accused of assault and battery during a sexual
encounter. However, the victim also has a hist...


... middle of paper ...


...r than Bryan in the 15 hours between the
alleged rape and the medical exam, and sperm and semen from a man
other than Bryant were found on the underwear she wore to the exam. If
it weren’t for the exception rule to the rape shield laws, those
evidences wouldn’t be introduced to the trial. As a result, that would
play on the advantages of the accuser and it wouldn’t be a fair trial
for Bryant.

Additionally, despite rape shield laws, evidence of a prior sexual
relationship between the victim and the defendant will most likely be
admitted, even when evidence concerns a single encounter months before
the rape. This is particularly discouraging for acquaintance rape
cases, where consent is typically a defense. As it shown, the rape
shield laws can play as a strengths and weaknesses both for the
victims and defendants.

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