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In your experience, how often are rape cases (accepted by the DA & indicted) found guilty in jury trial?

Houston, TX |

Many statistics are available online. My question is about what YOU have noticed in your experience.

Since case details make all the difference... I'm talking about cases in which the "material points" are favorable to the prosecution. (Circumstances of the crime and evidence both material and circumstantial.)

Assuming a plea deal is not reached and it goes to trial, in your experience have you seen juries generally convict? Or are juries generally a tough sell for the State? I understand there are no promises... Your observation is what I'm asking. Straight opinion.

Attorney Answers 7

Posted

I'll answer the base question you're asking. In my own experience, jurors tend to convict.

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Deepali Meenu Walters

Deepali Meenu Walters

Posted

On sexual offenses, that is. Doesn't mean much, because your jury won't have the same twelve people, but overall, the conviction rate ok these types of crime is probably pretty high.

Asker

Posted

I want to thank you, very much, because you read the question! Lol! I wanted to know YOUR experience, I wasn't looking for a prediction, just the general experience of attorneys who have seen or been a part of a rape trial. Thank you so vey much, I appreciate your input!

Deepali Meenu Walters

Deepali Meenu Walters

Posted

You're welcome. :)

Posted

You already know the answer to your question, but I think you are looking for what you know you can't get - prediction.

It is not a matter of statistics. Each case is different. Simply stating "material points" and "evidence both material and circumstantial" (which doesn't even make sense, sorry.... I think you mean direct evidence and circumstantial evidence) is not meaningful to us. Evaluating the strength of the case cannot be done on such vague terms. Details absolutely matter. There are far too many factors which come into play, and which facts are circumstantial and which are direct make a huge difference.

Each jury is different. Conviction requires unanimity of 12 jurors. The fact is, a guilty verdict can be prevented by even ONE jurors conscientious decision to vote not guilty. How in the world can we know the conscience of every juror? I recall one case I had which first resulted in a hung jury because of ONE juror, and I got a unanimous not guilty verdict in the re-trial. So, it went from all jurors except one against my client to all jurors for not guilty.

As lawyers, we try to assess our local jury pool. We also have the opportunity to question prospective jurors before trial. This is a skill which varies in quality among lawyers, so your choice of lawyer can be critical. Within a pool, there is a lot of variance, so it is mere guesswork. In Harris County, the pool is gigantic, so you don't know what you'll get.

Some cases seems strong, and a jury may say not guilty. A weak case may turn into a conviction. I don't know how any attorney can answer your question with what you want: "straight opinion".

Bottom line: instead of trying to gauge what your theoretical chances may be, hire the absolute best lawyer you can, and that will give you your best chance of success.

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Asker

Posted

Thank you for your answer Mr. Goff, but your assumptions have me pegged all wrong. I'm not the defendant, I'm the victim. You're right though, some of my question might not make sense, but it is because I am not an attorney. As the victim in a violent crime I'm limited wrt representation. I've got the state to "represent me" (but not really) and that's it. No one to help or guide me, no one to comfort me or encourage me or help me not feel like I made a mistake by going through with a case I wasn't sure I was prepared for. (But it's for the greater good, so I did.) I was raped. And instead of getting the support I need, I'm left to navigate EVERYTHING solo. Everything. So I asked a question to get some possible reassurance, if it was there to be had. Mr. Goff, I don't want your prediction. (Or anyone else's.) What I want is an answer to what I felt was a simple question...In your experience, when the case is strong (meaning for the prosecution... I'm the victim so I'm not angling for a strong defense...) do juries tend to convict, or are they typically a hard sell for the prosecution? The question was much more complicated than I surmised, apparently. (Ask me if people "typically run stop signs in small neighborhoods" I can say that while I don't know statistically, in my experience? Yeah... Too many people do, in fact. That is my personal observation, not a prediction whether or not you (or anyone else) will be plowed down by someone running a stop sign.) A side note... In my opinion, and in my situation, a "strong case" (to which I refer) is about the prosecution's strong case, not a "strong defense" in support of the defendant. I am not the defendant. This is why I posted the question this way, to make it general. But, Mr. Goff, I in no way was expecting a prediction. My apologies if you felt misled. Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my request for your experience and observations. It so happens that you predicted my situation all wrong. Sincerely, A Victim of a Brutal Rape, Seeking Info and Help.

Phillip Wayne Goff

Phillip Wayne Goff

Posted

I see. I don't think I pegged it wrong at all, however, in that it was posted as a "criminal defense" question, not as a victim's advocate. This forum/arena is intended to address questions from the viewpoint of the prospective client/defendant. If you feel you are not being "represented" well, so to speak, you should try to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the District Attorney's office. Here is the link: http://app.dao.hctx.net/HelpingVictims/VictimsRights.aspx . Of course, you probably already know the State of Texas is technically the complainant in this case, not you. However, your position could influence how the case is handled by the State. For what it's worth, these types of cases seem to be difficult for everyone involved. I cannot imagine it from your perspective, but I know it is a difficult one to navigate, even from my detached, professional perspective. I can say from observational experience regarding all the actors' involved, be they prosecutors, defendants, judges, jurors, etc..., these kinds of cases are gut-wrenching. Physical evidence is very frequently lacking, which favors the defense, and the prosecution is often stuck with trying to prosecute when they have little to no evidence, other than another person's word. From your perspective, sometimes, that's all you have. From a juror's perspective, imprisoning someone on that basis and/or marking him with a lifetime brand of "sex offender" is a tough sell. Direct evidence helps, as it may limit what may be argued plausibly. Circumstantial evidence is very commonly used in trials because many charges cannot be proven any other way. Your testimony is evidence in and of itself, and it would be considered direct evidence, particularly regarding your mental state of non-consent. Each element must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and evidence which may tend to prove such elements could be too many things to be able to discuss in generalities. I'd still say what I answered is accurate. The information posted is too vague to tell you what you should expect. We have too little information upon which to base our opinion. I re-assert my suggestion to you to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator. You may have an opportunity to get some answers and the reassurance you might need to understand what is happening in the case and to prepare yourself for what may happen next, particularly emotionally. Good luck.

Asker

Posted

FYI after posting questions, askers are given a few select options to classify questions. Nothing with the word "victim" was an option. Perhaps you can ask a generic legal question to see what I'm talking about. But trust me, askers are limited by the few select "question classification" options they are presented with. Thanks again for your time.

Kathryn Mary Holton

Kathryn Mary Holton

Posted

Well said Counselor.!!!!!

Phillip Wayne Goff

Phillip Wayne Goff

Posted

Thanks to Ms. Holton for your comment. Also, to the asker, I appreciate you letting me know the options you had available to you. I am not at all surprised because this forum presupposes the asker is seeking legal advice about a legal matter he/she has which may involve the hiring of an attorney; it sometimes may lead to clients, too. Your matter isn't actually such a legal question in my way of thinking because there is a system available to address your concerns which don't involve a need for you to hire an attorney. The prosecutor is, in effect, your advocate, although there is no attorney-client relationship, since the State of Texas is the client of the prosecutor. Of course, your concerns are related to law, due to their very nature. Talk to the Victim Assistance Coordinator as soon as possible. Good luck with your matter.

Posted

If you or someone close to you has been charged, it's natural to want some assurance - if not just some predictability. This is especially true in the tough position of considering a plea agreement and weighing the risks of going to trial. Unfortunately, though, your question is impossible to answer. There are far too many variables to list and explain here.

If you are in this predicament and facing such decisions, searching on-line for assurance or predictability via statistics or general legal information will drive you absolutely nuts. A very confidential and personal dialogue with your attorney is what you need.

Attorney Paul Kendall's answer to this question is for information purposes only. The answer is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between Paul Kendall and the person who asked the question or anyone reading the answer. Paul Kendall offers initial consultations at no charge.

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Paul Vincent Kendall

Paul Vincent Kendall

Posted

It seems I also assumed you are the one charged (or asking on his behalf); AND in my haste to answer, I completely missed your clarification to Mr. Goff. I am sorry that you were raped. I cannot begin to imagine such violation and trauma. Your question is still very difficult to answer. As you've recognized, the assistant DA prosecuting the case does not represent you; she represents the State of Texas. You are a State's witness (albeit an essential a witness). If your case is in Harris County, the DA Office's Victim/Witness division should provide some support and general information. The prosecutor can flesh things out for you based upon her professional experience with these cases. (Evidently, though, that's not happening for you.) Occasionally, victims do retain an attorney to represent them throughout this process. In the context of exploring that option, you might speak with an attorney who can provide you with a more informed answer than is possible here.

Asker

Posted

Thank you Mr. Kendall, I appreciate your comment.

Paul Vincent Kendall

Paul Vincent Kendall

Posted

My pleasure!

Posted

There is no way to know for sure. No one can tell you ahead of time what can happen. However, most lawyers will be able to give you a good idea about the possible outcome of your trial based on their experience, the nature of the charge, your criminal history, etc.

The materials available in this answer are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this answer or any of the e-mail links contained within this answer do not create an attorney-client relationship between Travis Ketner and the user or browser.

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Posted

Prosecutors rarely enjoy trying cases to juries they believe they will lose. Consequently, prosecutors will typically choose the best cases to try and plead the others. Under this scenario, cases pursued by the government in jury trials usually win. However, we are making many assumptions to reach this conclusion. Take the advice of the other lawyers and rely upon the trial lawyer's opinion. They know the facts and law much better than us.

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Asker

Posted

Your answer was ver helpful, thank you! Unfortunately "non-lawyers" can only mark helpful answers 10 times a month. I didn't know this and marked my opinion on other answers, other questions. But your answer was helpful and I thank you for taking the time to provide a thoughtful response to my question.

Stephen A. Gustitis

Stephen A. Gustitis

Posted

It's my pleasure to help you. :-)

Posted

It depends a lot on who your lawyer is. It also depends on who the lawyer for the State is. Then, it depends on the parties (the complainant and the defendant). How old is each person? What is the nature of the relationship? What is the nature of the accusation? Also, it depends on the quality and context of the evidence. Finally, it depends on the biggest unknown variable: the jury panel that is brought to court that day.

Your question is a fair one. But, it's impossible to answer with so little information. It's like asking a bookie to handicap football games, without telling him which teams, or what players, or where the game is being played.

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Posted

What is your theory of the case? And what is the evidence. No lawyer who knows anything about criminal defense could give you an accurate estimate without knowing more. Is your defense consent? If so, what evidence can you present that the sex act was consensual? Is your defense that the accuser is lying? What evidence do you have of her making up the rape claim? Is your defense mistaken identification? Is there DNA evidence, eye witness testimony, etc.? Go see a lawyer and talk over the facts of your case. Don't decide what to do based on anyone's estimate of what a jury would do in a rape case generally. Juries will acquit when the evidence is not there to convict.

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