Not Just a Credibility Contest: Sexual Violence Prosecutions That Go Beyond “Offender Said, Victim Said”

Sexual violence cases are often mistakenly reduced to a contest of credibility between the victim’s disclosure and the offender’s denial. Even though jurisdictions do not require corroboration of the victim’s testimony at trial, jurors may find it difficult to convict a defendant absent additional evidence. While crimes of sexual violence typically do not occur in front of other individuals, there are always witnesses and evidence to corroborate what happened before, during, and after the assault. By presenting the full scope of admissible evidence, prosecutors will increase the likelihood of success at trial while reducing the burden on victims.

This presentation addresses strategies and tactics to understand and explain victim disclosures through a trauma-informed lens; utilize victim behavior experts to educate fact-finders about the range of victim responses to sexual violence; and examine offender characteristics, motivations, and behaviors, as well as the impact of the offender’s actions on the victim. The presenter suggests strategies for overcoming common misconceptions at trial, including establishing a compelling trial theme, introducing evidence of the defendant’s predatory behavior, presenting corroborating evidence to support witness credibility, and recreating the reality of the crime for the jury.

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be better able to:
-Maintain focus on the offender.
-Support victim and witness credibility with corroborating evidence.
-Develop and present expert testimony to explain victim behavior. -Recreate the reality of the crime at trial.

Intimate Partner Violence Foundations: Moving Towards Justice

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting intimate partner violence cases (IPV).  In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting IPV. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Patti Powers discuss how motions practice can protect victims and advance prosecutions. They explore methods for analyzing cases to determine issues suitable for pretrial motion practice; ways to educate judges on novel legal and factual issues; and strategies for litigating motions to promote victim safety and privacy.

At the conclusion of this presentation, viewers will be better able to:

  • File pretrial motions consistent with litigation strategy;
  • Educate the judge; and
  • Focus on protecting victims and holding the offender accountable.

Additional resources related to this episode:

Intimate Partner Violence Foundations: Technology Changes, Abuse Doesn’t

This webinar is part of a 10-episode podcast-style series focused on the foundational elements of prosecuting intimate partner violence cases (IPV). In each episode, AEquitas Attorney Advisor Jane Anderson engages in conversations with other AEquitas staff, former prosecutors with years of experience prosecuting IPV. 

In this episode, Jane and Attorney Advisor Jon Kurland discuss the role of technology in intimate partner violence cases. They explore how offenders misuse technology to perpetrate crimes and assert power and control, and they offer strategies for litigating the admissibility of digital evidence and protecting victim privacy.

At the conclusion of this presentation, viewers will be better able to:

  • Keep up to date with technology and trends;
  • Litigate admissibility of digital evidence; and
  • Protect victim privacy.

Additional resources for this episode:

Coercive ‘Love’: The Intersection between Intimate Partner Violence and Human Trafficking

Human traffickers control their victims through force, fraud, and coercion. In the case of intimate partner sex trafficking, these methods of control are uniquely manipulative and difficult to identify. Understanding the historical and circumstantial factors that lead to vulnerabilities exploited by traffickers in these relationships allows law enforcement and prosecutors to more successfully address and minimize harm to victims while effectively investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases.

This presentation describes how, in addition to violence and threats, traffickers exploit feelings of love and loyalty to maintain power over their victims and perpetrate sex trafficking and related crimes. The presenters discuss the importance of identifying victims of intimate partner human trafficking to ensure victim safety and provide access to services and support, while at the same time articulating offender conduct to ensure they are held accountable for their actions.

The Prosecutors’ Guide for Reducing Violence and Building Safer Communities

This Guide discusses the essential capabilities necessary for a prosecutor’s office to effectively prevent and respond to crimes of violence. It suggests practices that are customizable and scalable, from foundational to enhanced, depending on an office’s available resources and experiences, as well as jurisdiction-specific needs and challenges . This Guide is intended to enable the executives responsible for operating a prosecutor’s office to identify policies and practices that can be readily implemented, as well as those that represent actionable goals to work toward. Every prosecutor’s office — whether a small tribal or rural office, a mid-sized suburban office, or a large office serving a major metropolitan area — can build the capacity to improve its response to violent crime by systematically incorporating promising practices that will harness all available resources to achieve the goal of a safer community.Prosecutors Guide for Reducing Violence and Building Safer Communities

A Prosecutor’s Quick Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations

This is a summary of a comprehensive resource entitled Seeking Justice and Solutions: A Prosecutor’s Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations. This Quick Guide provides an overview of areas for consideration, including investigative steps and prosecutorial decision-making. The full Guide provides further discussion of these topics, various examples of how prosecutors’ offices of all sizes have addressed these complex issues, and a self-survey to evaluate an office’s capacity to respond to overdoses.

 

A Prosecutor’s Quick Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations

 

 

Seeking Justice and Solutions: A Prosecutor’s Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations

The opioid epidemic has presented prosecutors with new challenges and questions.  “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem” is the new tagline of the epidemic. Through the opioid crisis may be the result of criminal actions by pharmaceutical companies, profit-driven drug sellers, and corrupt physicians, modern prosecutors acknowledge that addiction itself is a medical condition, not a crime. The prosecutor is faced with decisions on two fronts, how to address the criminal activity of drug sellers and how to treat the medical issues of drug users. There is no simple answer. The goal of this guide is to provide options and to highlight innovative, effective strategies for improving prosecutors’ responses to overdose deaths. These responses range from providing access to treatment to prosecuting overdose deaths as homicides.Seeking Justice and Solutions- A Prosecutor’s Guide to Opioid Overdose Investigations

The Problem-Solving Prosecutor: Modern Variations on the Crime Strategies Unit

This comprehensive document provides guidance on developing or enhancing intelligence-driven prosecution through a Crime Strategies Unit (CSU), or through processes that accomplish goals similar to those of a CSU. Based in part on interviews with prosecutors, crime analysts, and other specialists in the field, the guide discusses building foundational partnerships, methods for gathering data and intelligence, and ways in which data can inform and support investigations and prosecutions.

 

The Problem-Solving Prosecutor- Modern Variations on the Crime Strategies Unit

Criminal Jury Trials During COVID-19: Prosecution Leadership for a New Era

This webinar addresses the potential impact of pandemic safety measures on criminal jury trials and strategies for protecting the integrity of the proceedings. Presenters discuss strategies for triaging delayed cases; considerations of constitutional rights, including the 6th amendment right to a speedy and public trial, the 6th amendment right to confrontation,  and the 1st amendment freedom of the press; the use of juror questionnaires as a way to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 during jury selection; and methods for adapting prosecution strategies to virtual platforms.