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Prosecuting Alcohol-Fueled Sexual Assault (2007)

February 16, 2015 Comments off

Prosecuting Alcohol-Fueled Sexual Assault (PDF)
Source: National District Attorneys Association

Despite the prevalence of alcohol-facilitated sexual assault (AFSA), a n umber of barriers to successful prosecution exist. First, the use of alcohol in American society is quite common. Jurors may question whether the offender actually committed rape or just had consensual, albeit drunken, sex with the victim. Second, jurors may view a voluntarily intoxicated victim with skepticism or dislike, and may assume that she put herself in danger with her behavior. Research has demonstrated that individuals tend to view women who drink or get drunk as more sexual- ly available, and more likely to engage in sexual acts than women who abstain from alcohol. Third, AFSA cases are complicated by the physical manifestations of alcohol. “Alcohol decreases inhibitions, impairs percep- tion, and may cause amnesia and/or loss of consciousness, especially if used in conjunction with other drugs.” Victims may not be able to clear- ly perceive and/or remember the details of the assault.

This monograph discusses the prosecution of AFSA with a specific focus on AFSA when the victim is voluntarily intoxicated. It begins with a basic overview of toxicology. Next, it suggests a three-step process for prosecuting AFSA cases: (1) making the charging decision; (2) analyzing credibility and corroboration; and (3) trying the case. Finally, the monograph provides techniques for overcoming common defenses.

Firearm Identification: In the Forensic Science Laboratory

February 14, 2011 Comments off

Firearm Identification: In the Forensic Science Laboratory (PDF)
Source: National District Attorneys Association

This monograph serves to introduce the prosecutor to the principal elements of one of the forensic specialties, the science of “firearm and toolmark identification.” Many of the words and terms printed in bold in the text are defined in the glossary.The monograph provides an introductory discussion of the specialty of toolmark identification when the tool in- volved is a firearm.The tool surfaces represented here involve one or more of the following: the interior of the barrel, the chamber, parts of the action, and ammunition magazine components.These surfaces of the firearm can produce toolmarks on fired and unfired ammunition components.The forensic scientist views a “tool” as the harder of two objects where the surface of the harder “tool” produces toolmarks on a softer material. For example, the tool surface of the hard barrel interior leaves toolmarks on the softer metal of the fired bullet. Another example is when a cartridge is fired in a firearm.The softer metal used in the cartridge case construction may show toolmarks caused by the interior chamber and action surfaces coming in contact with the cartridge case. The action is the firearm’s loading and firing mechanism.

For there to be a potential for toolmark identification, the tool working surface (1) must have individuality, and (2) the toolmarks must be reproducible for comparisons. If it is deter- mined that the individual character of the tool working surface is reproduced in the toolmarks from repetitive markings, an examiner may be able to make an identification in later compaisons.

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