Concern has long been expressed in the United States regarding the legal processing of rape cases. According to Ellison & Munro (2009), there are significant institutionalizes methodologies regarding the credibility of women’s claim rape; this has been highlighted as the primary reason for fall out of rape cases. Indeed, despite the absence of evidence to suggest that false allegations are more apparent for rape cases than other offenses, it is explicit that the veracity of the victim’s claims is usually on trial at the same time as the perpetrator’s culpability. This study focuses on jury deliberations in rape cases.
Several rights apply to the victims of rape. According to the crime control act of 1990, the victim has the right to be protected from the perpetrator. In case the accused is found guilty and prosecuted, the victim has the right to proper, reasonable, and timely notice of any pole proceeding or public court proceeding pertaining to the crime. Moreover, the victim has the right to be included in all federal court proceedings unless if the court receives explicit and convincing evidence, and ascertains that the testimony by the victim would be altered if the victim heard other statements in court proceedings. Additionally, the victim has the right to be treated with respect and fairness to their privacy and dignity. Other rights of the rape victims include the right to be informed, the right to restitution as provided by the law, the right to proceed without delays, and the right to be heard (The United States Department of Justice, 2016).
There has been a rise in the cases of rape since the agency changed the definition of rape. According to the FBI annual report (2018), there has been a rise in the number of reported cases of rape by 20% since 2013. Despite the nuanced levels of reported in the FBI annual report, the law enforcement agencies experience significant challenges in quantifying the unreported cases of rape. However, the substantial increase in rape crimes was attributed to the redefinition of rape by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) in 2013. The new agency defined rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim” (Jackson, 2018). With the change in the definition, there were about135,800 reported rape incidences in 2017, an increase of 2.5 % from the 2016 statistics. Nonetheless, 91% of the rape victims are women; out of these, 51.1% of rape is perpetrated by an intimate partner while 40.8% by an acquaintance.
Victims of rape have two options: civil and criminal options. In the case of the victim in this case study, the civil court may be the only option for justice. In civil court, the jury must establish that it is “more likely than not” that the rape occurred. In this context, the victim can file cases to seek compensation for legal, medical, or health costs or even psychological effects such as anxiety and depression. In 1990, the United States Legislature developed the office of crime victim advocacy to administer services to crime victims, as well as sexual assault victim funding. Victim advocacy program serves as a liaison between the court and the victim to minimize the psychological, physical, and financial impact of the crime to the victim (Jackson, 2018). Therefore, once the victim reports their case to the advocate, the advocacy works to affect the social and system change and ease the cost of victimization.
Civil litigation, a victim may pursue a civil protection order regardless of whether a criminal investigation is underway or not. In civil litigation, victims are free to petition the court for more than one type of protection order and may have two or more orders in effect (Mindlin & Reeves, 2005). The positive impact of civil litigation involves a reduction in physical, psychological, and financial impacts on the victim. As such, civil litigation eases the cost of victimization. However, civil proceedings may trigger a further attack on the victim by the perpetrator.
Rape is defined as unconsented penetration in the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person. As such, a legal proceeding in rape cases should be backed with evidence of penetration and lack of consent. However, in the case presented, the jury was not able to identify if the penetration consented or not; this is because the incident occurred in a drunken rage. A constitutional amendment should be established to determine the floor of rights of victims in all courts. The amendment will ensure that courts engage in a careful and conscientious review of the rights of the victims and the defendants.
In the case highlighted in this study, some rights of the victims were violated. According to The United States Department of Justice, 2016, victims of rape have the right to be heard and participate in the criminal justice process. In my opinion, the victim was denied the right to participate in the criminal justice proceedings in identifying in gathering evidence against the perpetrator. In this case, we need to create a constitutional amendment that grants victims the ability to participate in the justice system. This amendment should involve the right to be heard when the jury deprives the victim of life, liberty, freedom, or property. The right to be involved in the court proceedings applies to both the victim and the defendants; thus, it will not conflict the right of any given party in the system.
Rape victims experience severe psychological and financial setbacks. The reaction and resilience of victims to the incidence may vary from one person to another. However, some of the common psychological responses of rape to the victim include flashbacks, depression, nightmares, lack of concentration, anxiety, phobias, low self-esteem, eating disorders, substance abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Nonetheless, rape victims also experience significant financial crisis due to the cost of healthcare and justice system costs. Also, rape of limits the productivity of the victim; the victim may not be able to work and earn as normal.
In conclusion, the rate of rape cases has increased substantially since 2013. Rape victims are less likely to receive justice and compensation, typically due to institutionalizes methodologies of rape cases. Rape has critical psychological, emotional, and financial impacts on the victim. Therefore, a constitutional amendment should be established to determine the floor of rights of victims in all courts. This will enhance the careful and conscientious review of the rights of victims by the courts during legal proceedings.
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