The prosecution is going to have to prove intent in every sexual abuse case. The way the statutes are written, the individual needs to actually intend to do the act for a specific purpose. Any kind of contact with the person’s body does not automatically equal sexual abuse. Obviously, there are limits as to exactly what can be charged and the government is going to have to prove that the person intended to commit the act and intended to do so either to gratify their own sexual arousal, to humiliate, or try to arouse the other person. The statute includes very specific language, and the government must prove that. You can’t just assume that if someone bumps into someone else that there was some kind of intent and the intent involves sexual gratification. There’s innocent contact that happens all the time, and contact that one party may perceive not to be innocent, but in fact was and can be established by a DC sex crimes attorney.
The government must prove the intent, and they’re going to have to prove what the type of contact was. That’s very critical in sexual abuse cases, because the type of contact determines what level of offense it is. The government will also have to prove the aspects of the case concerning the condition of the complainant. If the complainant is alleged to have been impaired or incapacitated and unable to consent, they’re going to have to prove that.
They’re going to have to prove that the sex, in fact, was not consensual—even though this person didn’t force the complainant to have sex and the complainant never said no and never indicated that there was an unwillingness or lack of consent. The government is going to have to prove, based on their condition, that this person couldn’t consent. They’re not going to be able to just flatly state that the person couldn’t consent, they will have to show that. In every sexual abuse case, there are very critical issues that the government has to prove, and those are areas where the defense will attack.
In addition to proving the intent of the defendant, proving the type of contact, and proving the condition of the complainant, you’re also going to see in many cases the use of DNA or other biological evidence. Those types of evidence are going to be critical, particularly in cases where there is an argument that no sex occurred. In some cases, there is a flat denial that the defendant had any kind of sexual contact, and it is alleged that the complainant is either mistaken, has the wrong person, is lying, or something of that nature. Any evidence that will establish a contact between the parties will very likely be contested.
In almost every case, the prosecutor will put the complainant on the stand, because that will be necessary to establish certain facts. The prosecutor will need to have live witnesses, which will include the complainant. The government will put on any other witnesses with critical pieces of information or evidence in the case. The government will also include any evidence they have—such as phone records, text messages, any other digital communication, any video evidence, any recordings, any type of scientific evidence, results of a DNA test, clothing or other physical evidence that would establish sexual contact occurred, and other evidence that would tend to support the complainant’s allegations. They want to build a solid case and make sure that they’ve got all the evidence possible to prove it.
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