Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Rape Shield Law

Limits the use of a victim's prior sexual history as an attempt to undermine the credibility of the victim's testimony.
1978- US Congress enacted Rule 412 of the Federal Rules of Evidence which declares that, evidence offered to prove the victim engaged in other sexual behavior, or evidence offered to prove any victim's sexual predisposition is inadmissible in any civil or criminal proceeding involving alleged sexual misconduct.
Argument for- safeguards victims from being humiliated and thus acts as an encouragement to report rapes.
Argument against- norms on sexual behavior more relaxed, therefore, in general, one stands to lose less if one's sexual record is brought up in public than was the case in the 70s. Therefore, this law is somewhat outdated. Also, it may hinder an accused rapist from a fair trial- cases where women have had a history of falsely accusing men of assault and rape- this info cannot be used in court.
The Kobe Bryant case brings to light the practicality of this law when a celebrity is involved. Everything is known about the alleged victim because of all the media coverage- thus, potential jurors are already prejudiced by all the hype in their faces.


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