Non DNA evidence in sexual assault cases

Once the MCIO gets a “confession” or DNA in a sexual assault case, it seems, they stop investigating–bad.

Whether you have DNA or not–whether you are trial counsel or defense counsel–gathering non-DNA evidence can be vital to your case.

Complaining witness says she and accused were at a bar drinking and the accused later took advantage of her because she was drunk.  OK, where are the bar receipts?  No, the MCIO is unlikely to ask and by the time the defense comes on board the register receipts may not be available.  Note, I have had several cases where the client has been saved by going to the bar with his credit card and getting the receipts.  The receipt tells you a number of things:  time paid (possibly related to time left the bar when paying the tab), (depending on the software) the number and type of drinks (huuum…four people in the party, four drinks, and just how many did the CW really drink?)  Or, how about the video from the base entry point when the CW walks or drives or is driven on base?  Is it possible the video helps show how unintoxicated the CW was or wasn’t?  CCTV?  Remember, the MCIO doesn’t usually care about this stuff.

“To many this would seem a clear-cut case of sexual assault [especially if ordered to believe the victim].  However, a case is not determined [except in the military] on what one believes, but by what the investigation shows and that can be proved [lordy, lordy].”


So what really happened that evening? In a case like this of “he said, she said,” investigators look to the forensic evidence to help them piece together what may have actually happened. The investigation and exploration of the totality of the evidence collected are critical to unravelling the allegations and discerning whether charges can be filed.

Therefore, when DNA is not available or not probative, other forensic evidence can help establish the facts. The most important take-away is that a case should be developed using the totality of the evidence.  (Cleaned up.)

W-T-R:  Sexual Assault Cases: Exploring the Importance of Non-DNA Forensic Evidence.  National Institute of Justice Journal, Issue No. 279.