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Evidence and Sex Crime Cases: What to Know

Posted on October 4, 2023 in Sex Crimes

Evidence plays a critical role in establishing the guilt or innocence of the person being accused in a sex crime case in Arizona. Evidence can help the prosecution build a case against the defendant and allow an accused person to defend against criminal accusations. A sex crimes defense attorney in Phoenix can help you deal with evidence during your case.

Burden of Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The burden of proof refers to the standard of evidence that must be met to demonstrate that a claim being made is true or valid. The burden of proof is assigned to different parties based on the type of case. In a criminal case, the burden of proof rests with the prosecutor. The prosecution must provide enough evidence to demonstrate that the defendant is guilty of the sex crime being accused. The burden of proof in a criminal case is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” – the highest evidentiary standard in law.

Evidence Admissibility Under Arizona Law

Evidence can include facts, physical objects, documents or witnesses that are relevant to the sex crime case. What can and cannot be admitted to court as evidence depends on the circumstances. The admissibility of evidence is subject to various legal standards and varies by jurisdiction. In Arizona, the Criminal Code’s Rules of Evidence decides what can and cannot be considered evidence in a criminal case. Determining admissibility requires analyzing the relevance, reliability and integrity of the proposed evidence.

Common Types of Evidence

The many potential types of evidence in a sex crime case include physical, testimonial, digital, expert and character. Physical evidence is often essential in sex crimes cases. For example, in cases of rape or sexual assault, physical evidence could establish the presence of the perpetrator’s DNA on the victim’s clothing or body parts. Other types of physical evidence include fingerprints and the results of a forensic examination, such as samples of clothing fibers.

Testimonial evidence can refer to statements made by the alleged victim, such as his or her version of events, as well as witness testimony from people who observed the incident or have information relevant to the case. Digital evidence can include texts, emails, photographs, videos and social media content. Expert testimony is given by subject-matter experts, such as medical or forensic professionals. Character evidence refers to statements made to help establish the character, integrity and reliability of an individual involved in the case.

Collection of Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations

Law enforcement agencies must adhere to certain guidelines when investigating alleged sex crimes and identifying and collecting evidence. When collecting biological or DNA evidence, for example, investigators must wear gloves and handle potential evidence in a manner that minimizes the deterioration or contamination of the sample. Any failures in the chain of evidence – meaning the numerous processes and records required to document evidence – could call into question the reliability of the evidence and lead to the defense having it ruled as inadmissible during a sex crime case. 

How to Deal With Evidence in a Sex Crime Case in Arizona

If you are being accused of any type of sex crime in Arizona, it is important to contact a defense attorney right away. An attorney can develop a defense strategy that limits the amount and importance of the prosecution’s evidence against you, such as through motions to suppress. Your lawyer can also search for evidence to serve in your defense, such as witnesses or documentation to support an alibi. For more information about evidence in your specific sex crime case, contact AZ Defenders at (480) 908-9321 for a free and confidential case evaluation.