Forcing the Prosecution to Provide Evidence
A case involving an allegation of a sexual offence is very rarely simple or straightforward. In fact, every aspect of a sexual offence case is complex, raising many issues for the prosecution and defence when it comes to legal arguments and evidence.
Senior and specialist legal representation at all stages, from the first police interview, through the investigation stage and during all court hearings, ensures the best protection for the accused. Whilst it is not the purpose of this website to detail every aspect of the prosecution or defence process, or explain every part of the law of evidence, it is worth noting the importance of defence statements.
A defence statement provides an opportunity for the defence to comment on the evidence presented so far by the prosecution and set out any points and issues that the defence team want to be brought to the prosecution and court’s notice. A correctly drafted defence statement (and we do mean correctly drafted by a solicitor that understands their importance) will involve a deep understanding of the facts of the case including any forensic analysis, independent forensic investigation, credibility and reliability of prosecution witnesses, the accuracy of the prosecution evidence etc... A properly drafted defence statement may result in the case being dropped by the prosecution at an earlier stage of the case than would otherwise be possible.
Issues that may be brought to the prosecution’s attention by the use of a defence statement include;
- False or exaggerated allegations, which may be due to false memory or arising out of malice.
- Medical evidence that supports the defence case. This will involve information about the defendant that would not be known by the prosecution, such as illnesses that affect sexual performance.
- Problems with the evidence as to identification of the suspect.
- An absence of motive to commit an offence.
- The issue of consent.
Following the production of a defence statement, as defence solicitors we are then legally entitled to request disclosure of material held by third parties (social service records, school records, employment disciplinary records, etc) which can often shed a different light on the relationship between the complainant and the defendant. This is especially the case in relation to foster carers. By raising such issues, defence statements and requests for further disclosure, seek to identify points overlooked by the police and prosecution that show that the case is manifestly unfounded and unlikely to result in conviction. Alternatively, a serious charge may be downgraded to a less serious offence.