Constitutional Violation As Grounds For Appeal
Constitutional Violations As Grounds For Appeals In Sex Crime Convictions
Aside from the crucial Sixth Amendment right to confrontation discussed elsewhere, other constitutional issues may arise in sex crime cases. A particularly prevalent legal error in appealing a sex crime conviction in Michigan involves the inconsistent stance of the Michigan appellate courts on the use of expert testimony in sex crimes.
Expert Testimony And Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome
The Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome is frequently employed by prosecutors to rationalize why allegations of sex crimes might appear irrational or implausible. For instance, why might a child wait months or even years to report sexual abuse? Michigan law allows the prosecution to use an expert to elucidate why a complaining witness’s actions might seem inconsistent with a credible report, such as delayed disclosure.
Moreover, prosecutors are allowed to question experts on whether the behavior of a complaining witness after an alleged sexual assault, or in the reporting of such, aligns with their experience in treating victims of alleged sexual assault or with the Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome. The Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court permit these lines of questioning.
Inconsistency In The Use Of Expert Testimony
In contrast, Michigan courts have ruled that the defense cannot use counter-expert testimony. The defense is not permitted to bring forth an expert to assert that the defendant does not fit the profile of a sex offender or that the complainant’s report does not align with the Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome or a genuine adult sexual assault report. This means the prosecution can employ an expert to argue that the defendant’s actions fit the pattern typically seen in legitimate sexual assault allegations, but the defense is barred from providing expert testimony suggesting the opposite.
This inconsistency should be contested at trial and raised on appeal, as the legal position on this in Michigan seems primed for a challenge. Given the current trajectory in law related to sex crimes emanating from the Michigan Supreme Court, this issue warrants meticulous examination as a potential legal error in appellate considerations.
New Evidence In Appeals Of Sex Crime Convictions In Michigan
Appealing a sex crime conviction based on new evidence is one of the most complex and challenging routes in the appellate procedure. The process can be difficult to comprehend, especially in situations where new evidence points toward the defendant’s innocence. One would assume that such evidence would be a priority for the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. However, these higher courts will not consider it unless there was a factual record made at the trial court level. Thus, the initial step involves bringing a claim of new evidence before the trial court, barring some exceptional circumstances.
Introducing new evidence in an appeal is inherently challenging. The primary obstacle often lies in proving that the evidence was not only undiscovered at the trial, but also that it could not have been discovered at that time. There are numerous procedural barriers to this, making it an arduous task to win an appeal based on newly discovered evidence.
The Presumption Of Innocence In Sex Crime Conviction Appeals
The presumption of innocence is a vital protection that defendants have during trial proceedings, though in sex crime cases it may hold less weight. Many lawyers experienced in sex crime cases believe that a jury is unlikely to acquit a defendant based solely on the presumption of innocence or the prosecution’s failure to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Most experienced sex crime attorneys feel the need to affirmatively demonstrate their client’s innocence, as this is what the jury typically requires for an acquittal.
However, this presumption of innocence ends when the jury delivers its verdict. If the jury finds the defendant guilty, the presumption of innocence disappears and plays no part in any subsequent appeal.
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