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Video surveillance a useful tool

Posted on May 09, 2011 3:00 AM EST

Video surveillance tapes have been used to both convict and absolve defendants charged with crimes. Video has been used to convict defendants charged with crimes such as armed robbery and home invasion type of offenses. In other cases, video recordings have been used to exonerate defendants charged similar serious offenses. In cases where surveillance exists, it is imperative that Miami criminal attorneys representing clients file motions to preserve the evidence immediately. Surveillance video is usually deleted or copied over fairly quickly. Once the video has been erased it is useless and cannot be used to exonerate a client. A recent case demonstrating the importance of video surveillance is the sexual battery case that arose in the Atlantis resort involving college students. According to sources, the video depicts the women victims as willing participants to the events leading up to the alleged rape.

While the video does not depict what occurred in the hotel room, the video does depict the alleged victims having drinks with and gambling with the defendants. The video also depicts a series of flirtations and caresses coupled with physical activity as the women kissed the men while gambling in the casino. While not dispositive of what occurred in the hotel room, it certainly raises significant issues as to whether the crime of sexual battery was committed. Video footage is a powerful resource when properly used by a skilled criminal defense attorney. It can be used to convince a prosecutor to drop the charges. If that does not work, the footage itself will be a powerful tool in convincing a jury to return a not guilty verdict at trial.

While the video is important evidence, other physical evidence must be evaluated to defend a client charged with sexual battery. Rape treatment kits are often used is rape investigations. The sexual organs of victims are examined and evaluated to determine if force was used during sexual intercourse. Nurses attempt to collect semen samples and check the fingernails of victims for skin samples belonging to the defendant. A victim's arms, wrists and neck are checked for bruising to determine if force was used during the alleged offense. Blood samples are also taken of the victim to determine blood alcohol content, the presence of drugs in the system, such as marijuana and cocaine, and or course date rape drugs. All of these pieces of evidence or lack of evidence are used by the prosecution and the defense to build their respective cases.

Sometimes, the most important item of evidence in a sexual battery cases, is the initial statement provided by the victim. The initial statement locks a victim into her version of events. With that version of the events in hand, a qualified criminal lawyer can punch holes in the prosecution's case. For example, in the case out of the Bahamas, both victims claimed that they were feeling dizzy and losing control over their bodies. These statements would infer that the victims were slipped date rape drugs, like Rohypnols or Roofies. The blood tests revealed no evidence of date rape drugs which refutes the stories of the purported victims. In many cases, the versions of stories provided by victims in date rape cases can be refuted by physical evidence, such a video surveillance, rape kits and blood tests. As charges stemming from sexual offenses have life altering affects, no stone can go unturned in defending these types of cases.

Surveillance Video Could be Key in Garrett Wittels Rape Case, Miami Herald.com, May 8, 2011.
Categories: Sex Offenses