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On The Rape Shield Law - Research Proposal Example

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In all the fifty states of United States there are Rape Shield laws enacted to protect the interest of the so called complainants. Evidence as to previous sexual conduct provided by the defendant in a criminal suit are inadmissible…
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Research Proposal on The Rape Shield Law
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Download file to see previous pages Despite the purported and perceived protection, which the enforced Rape Shield laws serves to give to the complainants, there may be some flaws in the laws itself, which may prejudice the interests of the defendant. The defendant may not be able to present his side of the story in front of the judge or to provide evidentiary support to prove his innocence in case where previous sexual conduct of the victim is not taken into consideration. Thus, false and unjust incarceration of the defendant may happen. The rape shield laws are deficient in some ways and specific amendments have to be brought into the rape shield laws to provide a fair and just decision to the defendant as well as the victim. Though the rape shield laws is an accepted statute, mainly for the purpose that it seeks to protect the victims of rape, yet, acceptance does not eradicate the contention that rape shield laws may have some inherent deficiencies that needs to be taken care of to make it a more acceptable and fair form of legislation. The present research paper is devoted to explaining the deficiencies that are inherent in the rape shield laws, which may prejudice the legal rights of the defendant and at times even the victim. The basis of the contention is deficient and vague rape shield laws in different states, constitutional criticism of the rape shield law and failure of the laws to fulfill their purpose in exceptional cases where high profile is involved. 2. Vagueness of Rape Shield laws in Different States The rape shield laws in different States are different. There is no uniform set of laws like the Uniform Commercial Code, which may be applicable to all the states. This increases vagueness of the law itself. Each state has its own set of laws enacted with its own set of exceptions, sometimes distinct from that which is enacted in a particular state and sometimes completely different from other states. For instance, as per the Alabama statute any evidence relating to the past sexual behavior of the complaining witness is admissible with an exception that evidence shall be admissible, when it is found that past sexual behavior directly involved the participation of the accused. On the other hand, though most states have in one way or another bared the admissibility of the past sexual conduct, however, the exceptions to such restriction is sometime less stringent and in some cases more stringent. In comparison to the exceptions to rape shield laws, which is in force in Alabama , the exceptions in Texas, Utah and Vermont are more stringent, as evidence is acceptable where probative value outweighs danger of unfair prejudice .1 This indicates while defendants in certain jurisdictions get better opportunities to prove their innocence while at other jurisdictions do not. 2. Constitutional criticism There are some inherent deficiencies in the rape shield laws despite its acceptance as an enacted law in all the states of US. The critics who seek to criticize the rape shield laws on the reasoning that it somehow violates the constitution propose that the rape shield laws are deficient in providing a fair trial to the defendant, it violates his right to cross-examine the victim or witnesses, it discriminates between sexes, it is an intrusion of the legislature into the judiciary and thus a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers and it is a vague form of law.2 In the forthcoming cases, the questions which arose to prove the constitutional violation of the rape shield laws were repeatedly nullified by the court. In a case, the question arose that whether not allowing the defendant to raise questions about the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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