Legal Representation for Victims of Crime Essay

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The following report has been undertaken by James Catley on behalf of the Attorney General. The report addresses the proposed amendments to the Victims of Crime Act 2001 (SA) for which the Attorney General will have responsibility. The proposed amendment will give the Commissioner for Victims’ Rights and/or the alleged victim of a sexual offence the specific power to be legally represented in criminal proceedings. The report will employ three methods of research; case studies, research studies and jurisprudential studies. The recommendations made will be based upon policy considerations, philosophical arguments and the way in which the amendments may work in practice. It is evident from the statements made by the premier that the proposal…show more content…
In more extreme cases the defence may employ strategies in cross-examination which use sexist gender stereotypes to question the credibility of the witness. The controversial American rape case of William Kennedy Smith is an example where the absence of legal representation allowed the exploitation of the victim’s rights. In order to assert that Smith had not roughly assaulted the victim as she had claimed, the defence displayed her “sexy-styled” lacy brassiere which was still intact. Consequently, the brassiere was then used to imply to the jury that a woman who wears a brassiere of this nature would have consented to sexual intercourse. With legal representation the victim would have been aware of her right to privacy with regard to the brassiere, and may have directed the judge to exclude the sexist and gender-biased comments made to imply that consent was given. The victim was not afforded this benefit and as a result the strategy employed by the defence proved successful when the case was acquitted. It is clear that in an Adversarial system such as the United States a victim’s access to legal representation has been the deciding factor in the protection of their rights. In order to fight defence tactics that exploit sexist stereotypes and a victim’s right to privacy, victims must be granted access to personal legal
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