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Building a solid defense around rape kit evidence

In our last couple posts, we’ve been speaking about rape kits, specifically how the evidence is gathered and stored, and about the issue of chain of custody. When a defendant faces rape charges, there are several things to keep in mind when building criminal defense case with respect to rape kits.

The first thing is to remember that rape kits can be a potential help in building a strong defense, depending on the details of the case. For a defendant who has been wrongly accused, the evidence found in a rape kit can serve to undermine the allegations, whether because the defendant’s DNA is not found in the rape kit or because the rape kits does not support the alleged victim’s allegations. Defendants can therefore use the rape kit itself to their advantage. 

Another point to be aware of is that establishing chain of custody is important when a rape kit is involved. Due to the risk of tampering and contamination, gaps in the chain of custody can make it so that prosecutors don’t have a strong of a case in offering a rape kit into evidence.

Also, the training of the nurse who performed the test may, if necessary, be brought into question. If the nurse was not specifically trained as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, he or she may not have had the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the exam correctly. And, even if he or she was trained as a nurse examiner, there may have been a mistake in how the exam was performed. This can be highlighted in a criminal case.

These are all issues that can be explored in building a defense against rape charges where a rape kit is at issue. Obviously, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is wise in order to ensure that one has the best possible chance at a good outcome. 

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