In terms of the potential devastation a criminal conviction can produce, few charges match those that are sexual in nature. Being found guilty of a crime in this category can yield long prison terms, costly fines, and a permanent social stigma.

Defending against these charges can be challenging due to the Georgia rape shield statute, which is why it is important to align with a skilled attorney such as a Georgia lawyer who has a strong record of success.

Key Facts About the Rape Shield Statute

Pursuant to the rape shield statute found at O.C.G.A. § 24-4-412, evidence that focuses on aspects of an individual’s sexual past is typically inadmissible at trial. Accused individuals are unable to raise issues pertaining to the promiscuity, marital history, provocative manner of dress, or other characteristics of a supposed victim.

While the statutory prohibition of the use of this type of evidence initially only covered rape, in 2013 the law broadened to include child molestation, aggravated sodomy, statutory rape, and sexual battery of all types. The purpose of the rape shield statute in Georgia is to protect people from character attacks that do not shed light on whether the defendant committed the crime at issue.

It was meant to facilitate the fact-finding process by preventing jury members from being unduly inflamed by prejudicial information about the alleged victim that is irrelevant to the defendant’s guilt or innocence. However, the prohibition against introducing evidence can be a difficult obstacle when crafting a legal defense. Speak with a Georgia lawyer for more information.

Important Exceptions in the Rape Shield Law

Those facing serious sex crime charges in Georgia need to know the rape shield law incorporates a series of exceptions that permit the admission of certain types of evidence related to the alleged victim’s sexual history.

For example, if the court finds there is certain evidence of an alleged victim’s past sexual behavior involving the accused party and the evidence could reasonably support an inference of consent, they may allow those details. It may also be possible to admit evidence that supports a conclusion that the accused believed consent was given.

In assessing questions of consent, the rape shield statute requires a reasonable inference that both parties provided consent to the sexual activity at issue. Although consent may not be a defense in cases involving children. Verbal exchanges and other types of behaviors or patterns between the parties can constitute sufficient evidence to generate such an inference. A person charged with violating this Georgia rape shield statute should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.

High Stakes Demand a Vigorous Defense

A sex crime charge in Georgia can be catastrophic. Years of imprisonment, onerous financial penalties, job loss, and possible revocation of professional licenses are some of the most serious consequences. Furthermore, O.C.G.A. § 42-1-12 provides for mandatory inclusion on the sex offender registry, which can follow an individual for the rest of their life.

When facing charges related to sexually-related offenses, every person must take swift action to safeguard their rights and freedom. If you face charges and are concerned how the Georgia rape shield statute may complicate your defense, a seasoned Georgia lawyer could help. Call today to set up a free consultation.