Convictions in Rape Cases

The Director of Public Prosecutions wants to “improve” conviction rates for rape charges in England and Wales. I think that is an odd desire, and even odder that the whole of the media seems to think an improvement, by which more successful convictions, is an object of desire.

At the moment it seems that 60% of rape charges result in a conviction, which is slightly less than the 63% “success” rate of last year. It is typical, I suppose, of prosecutors to distrust juries, who make decisions about whether a charge has been proved or not proven. Juries make the final decision in rape cases and the common sense judgement of twelve ordinary people determines the verdict. It determines whether they believe the accused or the victim, and juries usually make their decision in a painstaking sensible way.
Obviously this is not what Ms Saunders, the DPP thinks. She seems to think that juries who do not agree with the prosecution version of a case must be educated to think otherwise. “I am determined to ensure our long-term progress to tackle rape continues, particularly in dispelling the myths and stereotypes surrounding these types of cases.”

Rape is a serious crime, but not the most serious of crimes. Most rape cases turn on the issue of consent, and this makes rape easy to allege and hard to prove. Short of simply dispensing with jury trials and prosecuting every allegation of rape without a trial I do not see what the DDP can actually do to secure convictions.
The DPP must also bear in mind that a not guilty verdict is not a stain upon prosecutors or their work and does not emanate from an ignorant jury. A not guilty verdict should be regarded as the criminal justice system working, as much as a guilty verdict is evidence of it working. “Improving” conviction rates is not the job of a prosecutor. That task is to gather the evidence and present it to the jury dispassionately and fairly, not with the sound and fury of a tale told by an idiot.

6 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Iain Hall's SANDPIT and commented:
    As I have often said myself the issue in rape prosecutions is almost always the He said She said dichotomy even when there is clear forensic evidence of sexual activity. Further there are issues revolving around the way that modern western society now treats sexual encounters as just another recreational pursuit which brings intoxicants into the mix. My advice to anyone playing such a game would be to record explicit consent on your phone.
    Cheers Comrade Robert

  2. Robert said, “Most rape cases turn on the issue of consent, and this makes rape easy to allege and hard to prove.”

    Surely you don’t mean the victim consents to be raped?

    The majority of rape victims don’t report the rape – the whole thing is too humiliating and reporting it to authorities even more humiliating, and dangerous too

    I do agree however that there are many sounds of fury told by idiots
    in court, and not only in rape cases…

    • What I mean is that most rapes in the UK are committed by people who know each other. Frequently the accused claims that the victim consented to sex, and juries have to decided whether the victim did or did not consent. If the victim did consent to sex, then it is not rape. The jury in these cases usually decides who they believe – the accuser or the accused. I think that juries make their decisions on their experience of life and the social mores of the time. Therefore if there is a stigma attached to rape the jury will be less likely to believe the accuser and think that the matter might arise as a result of her fault or behaviour.
      Rape is an ugly, terrible crime but it is also ugly and terrible to make a false accusation of rape.

  3. Robert said, “Therefore if there is a stigma attached to rape the jury will be less likely to believe the accuser and think that the matter might arise as a result of her fault or behaviour.”

    The problem sometimes in rape as well as other cases is that it is not just the jury coming to a verdict. The jury can be led in the wrong direction.

    A judge can be led to a verdict simply by who the accused is, and if the accused works for the Government or is friendly with Government he may be given a free pass for all the wrong he does, with witnesses provided to help him.

    Also the jury can be led in the wrong direction on purpose, by false testimony and expert false evidence.

    The movie “The Stoning of Soraya M” shows what can go wrong for a wife when the Government is corrupt, this film shows the ultimate rape and murder.

    On the other hand, for those accused of rape

    the Government can also be corrupt–as in the case of Roman Polanski, who served his time at the time – for consensual underage sex, but the Judge first agreed to a plea bargain stating no more jail time, and then later was illegally coercing Roman Polanski into self-deportation and if he did not agree, more prison time. See the movie “Polanski: Wanted and Desired.”

    Thus the Courts and the players are not perfect, and can be easily corrupted, turning the process into an abuse of power no matter victim or accused.

    • You are absolutely right. I cannot think of a way to administer and enforce the law that is more perfect than the present system; juries can certainly be misled, often by “good” advocacy and those who enforce the law can also be misled by their own prejudices.

  4. Robert said, “and those who enforce the law can also be misled by their own prejudices.”

    I agree, but want to add that those who enforce the law are not always misled by their own prejudices, because sometimes those who enforce the law (police, prosecutors and judges) are led by their own prejudices, and are very active in covering up someone else’s crime.

    There is nothing misleading about that, pinning the blame on someone else. Sometimes prosecutors, judges, police nail someone to bolster their image, give the impression that justice has taken place, and for political purposes, money and promotion.

    Powerful or not so powerful people can engage in “dirtying up the victim” and the victim becomes the scapegoat for the system’s sins, thus nothing has changed in 3000 years.

    Two Examples are below.

    In the movie, “The Stoning of Soraya” the payoff for a man who was coerced by the local government to lie (corruption) against Soraya was to save his son from death, by lying the man allowed Soraya to die instead.

    In the case of Roman Polanski, (who was also coerced by a Judge to deport himself in the late 1970’s, but he fled instead) 30 years later a DA, wanted to take advantage of this situation to bolster his election chances, and “the accused” was dirtied up even further in the World’s press. But luckily for Roman Polanski, Switzerland’s justice was wise and decided not to extradite Roman Polanski.

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