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Evidence in Sex Crime Cases

For variety of reasons, sex crimes cases, especially child sex crimes cases, are very different than almost any other criminal case that comes into the criminal courts. Some differences vary by states or context. For example, in Arizona, the sentencing scheme for child sex crimes cases is one of the toughest sentencing schemes in the country. In any case of child molest (where the child victim is necessarily under 15 years of age), sentencing starts at a minimum of 10 years flat in prison – no ifs, ands or buts. In addition, the sentence on every count, i.e. every incident that occurs, must run consecutive to each other count. Child sex crimes sentences are often "life" sentences even where they aren't officially "life" sentences.

But the tough sentencing isn't even the most glaring difference between sex crimes cases and other cases. The biggest thing that distinguishes sex crimes cases from any other case, rests in the type of evidence that is collected. In the typical crime, whether it is a robbery, burglary, drug deal, or even a murder, the full spectrum of types of evidence might be present.

There might be eyewitnesses -someone might have seen the crime and given a statement to the police about what they saw happen. There are no eyewitnesses to sex crimes in the ordinary case – just a perpetrator and a victim.

Likewise, in the run of the mill "other" case there might be physical evidence. There might be fingerprints for example. The perpetrator might get caught with the loot – the fruits of an armed robbery or burglary. The perpetrator might, in the case of a murder, be caught with the gun or other murder weapon. But such physical evidence is typically absent in the area of child sex crimes.

Instead, the types of evidence that might be present in child sex crimes cases is very limited.

Obviously, criminal sex crimes charges arise after a victim, or alleged victim, has disclosed that they have been abused. The disclosure itself, i.e., the child's claim, is the main piece of evidence in sex crimes cases. But because the mere word of a child is not sufficient to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, the police and prosecutors work very hard to find any corroborating evidence that might exist.

Occasionally, but rarely, evidence of a physical injury that accompanies a sex crime is collected by the police. But more often than not, the perpetrator leaves no physical remnant of the abuse.

Occasionally, but rarely, there may be DNA evidence left behind. Due to the nature of the offense, it would seem the DNA might be left behind at the scene; but sex crimes are often so delayed in their disclosure, that any DNA type evidence that once existed is probably gone by the time police are investigating the crime.

This leaves please and prosecutors with a very limited set of tools to collect other corroborating evidence. One such tool, that is used whenever appropriate, is called the "confrontation call." In the "confrontation call" the police will have the alleged victim place a telephone call to the alleged perpetrator in an effort to have the alleged perpetrator admits responsibility for the crime. In many cases, because the perpetrator believes that he is speaking privately with the victim, he will make an admission of guilt. Because the police have recorded this "confrontation call," the police now have an incredibly strong piece of evidence, i.e. a confession that the perpetrator is responsible for the crime.