Sexual assault is a serious crime that affects thousands of people every year in Oklahoma. The state has laws in place to protect victims of sexual assault, but there are also ongoing legal issues that impact the way these cases are prosecuted and adjudicated. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at some of the current legal issues affecting sexual assault cases in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has several laws in place to protect victims of sexual assault. For example, the state's Rape Shield Law prohibits evidence of a victim's sexual history from being introduced in court unless it is relevant to the case. Additionally, the state has laws that define sexual consent, which is essential in determining whether a sexual encounter was consensual or not.
One current legal issue in Oklahoma is the backlog of rape kits in the state. In 2021, it was reported that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation had a backlog of more than 7,000 untested rape kits. This backlog has led to delayed justice for sexual assault victims, and lawmakers and advocates are calling for more funding and resources to address this issue.
Another legal issue is the use of victim impact statements in sentencing. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that non-unanimous jury verdicts in criminal cases are unconstitutional. However, Oklahoma allows non-unanimous jury verdicts for certain crimes, including rape. This has led to concerns that victim impact statements may be given too much weight in the sentencing process.
In February 2022, an Oklahoma judge ruled that the state's definition of sexual consent is unconstitutional. The definition, which was adopted in 2018, requires victims to verbally or physically resist in order for an encounter to be considered non-consensual. The judge ruled that this definition violates due process and equal protection under the law.
Sexual assault is a serious crime, and it is essential that victims have access to justice and legal protections. Oklahoma has laws in place to protect victims, but there are ongoing legal issues that impact how these cases are prosecuted and adjudicated. By addressing these issues, Oklahoma can ensure that victims of sexual assault receive the justice they deserve.
If you or a loved one have been affected by issues regarding sexual assault, contact Koller Trial Law today.
Every employee of Koller Trial Law is trauma-informed and understands the need for extreme confidentiality.