Rape, criminal defense, prosecuting a rapist

After successfully prosecuting a rapist and uncover evidence that indicates that the victim made up the story what would I do as the prosecutor?

Lowell, MA -

Attorney Answers (3)

Gregory Casale

Gregory Casale

Criminal Defense Attorney - Worcester, MA
Answered

As a prosecutor, you MUST bring this evidence to your superior and further investigation must be done. As you certainly should know, your obligation, both ethically and legally, it to promote what is just, not to win each case. If you believe that a innocent person has been convicted, you have an ethical and legal duty to determine the validity of this suspicion. Not to mention that if someone committed perjury to the exxtent that it convicted an innocent person, that perjorer should also be prosecuted. I am somewhat suspect of this question since this should have been discussed and answered internally in the District Attorney's office.

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Thuong-Tri Nguyen

Thuong-Tri Nguyen

Family Law Attorney - Renton, WA
Answered

If you are actually a prosecutor, why are you asking this question on an internet message board? Is this a homework question?

In addition to being governed by the ethical rules that all attorneys must follow, prosecutors must follow special ethical rules. One of those ethical rules essentially is that the objective of a prosecutor is not to win at any cost but to serve justice. If the prosecutor discovers that a convict is likely not to be factually guilty, the prosecutor likely has an ethical duty to disclose the information to the court, the convict, and the convict's attorney.

However, depending on how the prosecutor discovers the information, the prosecutor may have a competing ethical duty not to disclose. For example, if the prosecutor discovers this information while representing a client (perhaps after the prosecutor left is prosecuting job), the prosecutor may have duties to the client that would prevent disclosure.

The agency that licenses attorneys in the prosecutor's state likely has a program through which attorneys may discuss possible ethical conflicts. The prosecutor likely should review the facts with that office to see what the prosecutor's ethical duties may be.

John M. Gioffredi

John M. Gioffredi

Criminal Defense Attorney - Dallas, TX
Answered

An ethical prosecutor would first contact his or her supervising attorney, and then contact the court to take action to reverse the conviction. Unfortunately, a few unethical prosecutors might just shrug their shoulders and move on to the next case.

"Uncovering evidence that 'indicates' that the victim made up the story" is a pretty vague statement. Not every "indication" is going to be accurate, and certainly not every indication" is going to prove the defendant didn't commit the crime. For example, a rape victim might say one thing to the police and prosecutor ("it was a date rape"), and something different to a boyfriend ("I was abducted and raped"). Any difference between the statements could be argued to "indicate" that the victim made up at least part of the story. That doesn't necessarily mean the rape didn't happen. An ethical prosecutor should at a minimum disclose the inconsistent statements to the defense.

Sometimes family and friends will interpret even the most minor discrepancy as "evidence indicating the victim made up the story." For example, the victim might describe the rapist as being 6'1" and 210 pounds, when the defendant was actually 6'0" and 195 pounds. That discrepancy could be argued to be so minor that it doesn't even require disclosure. Still, when in doubt, such matters should be disclosed to the defense counsel.

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