Trauma is a direct result of the abuse and exploitation that offenders inflict on victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. This acute trauma, often compounded with historical trauma, impacts survivor’s ability to fully participate in the criminal justice process. As a result, a collaborative, trauma-informed response that takes historical context into consideration is essential to ensuring survivor access to justice while improving community safety.
This presentation describes various forms of trauma that victims may experience throughout their lives and as a result of an offender’s victimization. Presenters define cultural humility as a key element of a successful trauma-informed response that improves our individual, collective, and systematic responses to survivors. Additionally, the presenters provide strategies to identify, document, and introduce evidence of trauma to improve case outcomes and community safety by holding offenders accountable.
At the conclusion of this training, participants will be better able to:
• Identify signs and symptoms of trauma, and implement trauma-informed practices
• Enhance victim safety, privacy, autonomy, and participation through collaboration with allied professionals
• Practice cultural humility while preparing cases to proceed, regardless of a victim’s ability to participate in the process
Those who commit crimes involving sexual violence often exploit the disparate power dynamic between victim and offender — whether the relationship is between teacher and student; producer and actor; coach and athlete; or law enforcement officer and arrestee, probationer, or inmate. By wielding weapons of authority, the perpetrator leaves the victim with little choice but to submit to sexual acts and stay quiet in the aftermath, fearing that they will be disbelieved or blamed if they try to report it. This is especially true in the law enforcement context, where victims are usually in the custody of their offender and have a history of criminal activity, which often has an impact on their credibility in the eyes of untrained professionals, juries, and the public.
This presentation addresses the reaches of federal jurisdiction to prosecute sexual violence by those acting under color of law at all levels of government. It discusses how coordination among federal and state authorities can enhance investigations into reports of sexual violence, and if the evidence permits, help determine in which jurisdiction to bring charges. It further focuses on three critical Federal Rules of Evidence that can be used to corroborate a victim’s account and build a strong case — even where there is no physical evidence or eyewitness testimony.
The criminal justice system can serve as both an on-ramp to and an off-ramp from sex trafficking and exploitation. As gatekeepers within the criminal justice system, prosecutors are uniquely positioned to identify sexually exploited women and girls, make fair charging decisions, facilitate criminal record relief, and link survivors with services and support. In these ways, prosecutors can clear the way to a different life path and achieve justice for survivors.
The presenters bring their lived and professional experience to this presentation, which emphasizes prosecutors’ duties to achieve justice over convictions and to proactively remedy wrongful convictions. Presenters discuss strategies for engaging survivors, avoiding wrongful criminalization, and providing access to just criminal record relief.
Human traffickers assert force, fraud, and coercion against victims in order to profit from commercial sex or forced labor or services. Offenders use a variety of tactics designed to ensure that victims will do what they are told without resistance, questioning, or disclosure to law enforcement. This physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual control too often allows traffickers to escape accountability. This presentation is designed to improve responses to trafficking and exploitation while ensuring that victims are not inappropriately charged with crimes they are forced to commit.
Collaboration is key to any response to trafficking and exploitation, but imperative where the complexity of victim-offender dynamics is not easily understood or revealed. This presentation provides law enforcement and prosecutors with strategies to uncover the reality of the victim’s involvement in the trafficking organization or within the exploitation dynamic. Presenters provide a framework for assessing the culpability of individuals who may initially be identified as both victims and defendants. They also provide suggestions to assist prosecutors in making ethical and appropriate immunity and charging decisions as well as designing appropriate dispositions.
This two-part webinar series presented by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with AEquitas, explores the scope of data available from sources of digital evidence and strategies on how such data can effectively be developed with forensically-sound practices. Presenters discuss theories of admission, rules of evidence, and “real life” examples to demonstrate how to properly authenticate and introduce digital evidence in court proceedings. Part I of the series explores the different types and sources of electronic data that are available to investigators; how such data can be properly collected, regardless of whether it is in a physical device or electronic records; and methods to facilitate searching and seizing data.
For a variety of reasons—officer safety, public accountability, evidence collection, and departmental transparency—an increasing number of police departments have adopted, or are considering adopting, the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs). While BWCs can provide helpful evidence in cases involving gender-based violence (GBV), their use may also adversely impact victim safety and privacy. This article discusses many of the issues law enforcement, prosecutors, and allied professionals must consider when BWCs are used in GBV investigations. The article describes the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration – at the local, state, and federal levels – in order to develop effective BWC policies that address victim safety, privacy, and autonomy. The article also addresses issues such as deactivation of a BWC at appropriate points during the investigation; privacy and safety considerations; discovery, redaction, protective orders limiting dissemination; and requests under freedom of information or open records statutes.
Image exploitation involves the non-consensual creation, possession, or distribution of an image or images depicting victims engaged in consensual sexual activity or being sexually assaulted. As technology continues to evolve more quickly than the law, image exploitation crimes are being addressed by a patchwork of criminal laws. This Strategies Newsletter gives prosecutors insight on how to respond to this complex crime and to hold offenders accountable under imperfect or untested laws. The article explores the various forms of image exploitation and the types of statutes under which this abuse can be prosecuted.