Sometimes in sex abuse cases, the defendant in the case (the person accused of the crime) will attempt to discredit the victim. If this happens, the prosecution can offer evidence to strengthen the victim’s credibility. This situation is referred to as “constancy of accusation.” You can learn more about it here.
What is Constancy of Accusation?
If the defense in a sexual assault case attacks the credibility of either the victim’s allegation(s) or references the victim delayed in reporting, the prosecution can then bring forth evidence that strengthens the victim’s credibility to rebut this. Evidence that strengthens the victim’s credibility and statements regarding the allegation is otherwise known as constancy of accusation evidence. However, it is important to note that this evidence may not come in if the defense does not first try to impeach the credibility of the victim. This is according to Connecticut Code of Evidence § 6-11(c).
Constancy of accusation evidence involves the prosecution bringing forth witnesses to testify that the victim did indeed make an allegation of sexual assault, when the victim made allegations, and to whom the victim reported the allegation to. These witnesses must be brought before the jury after the victim has testified to the facts of the alleged sexual assault. The witnesses may only testify about the details of the sexual assault that are necessary to establish that the victim had previously made the allegation to the pending charge of the defendant.
This evidence is used to prove the allegation was made and not whether or not the allegation is true. The point of this evidence is to disprove that just because the victim delayed in reporting does not mean that the offense did not occur. Additionally, the prosecutor uses this testimony to highlight the consistency in the complainant’s accusations over a period of time, making the truth of the allegation seem more plausible.
If the defense does not attack the victim for delayed reporting then the prosecution cannot bring forth this evidence, but the judge will still instruct the jury that there are many reasons why a sexual assault victim might delay reporting a crime.
If you are defending yourself against a sex crime, you may speak to the victim’s credibility in your defense. Just know that this could trigger constancy of accusation and evidence on behalf of the victim. Before establishing a defense for your situation, it is a good idea to contact a criminal defense attorney. Such a lawyer can help you determine the best way to proceed given your situation. To learn more about defending yourself and getting help, contact our office.