Rape shield law in North Carolina – What you might think qualifies as evidence may not be permissible in a court of law as such. North Carolina’s rape shield statute, for example, restricts a defense attorney from using the alleged victim’s sexual history to undermine their credibility. The statue was adopted in 1979 and still stands today in North Carolina as North Carolina Rule of Evidence 412.
What evidence does it prohibit?
- Evidence offered to prove that a victim engaged in other sexual behavior; or
- Evidence offered to prove a victim’s sexual predisposition.
More specifically, this includes topics such as:
- Evidence of a complainant’s nonvirginity;
- Use of birth control;
- The presence of semen stains on her clothing; or
- Her history of sexually transmitted diseases
Are there any exceptions?
The sexual behavior of the alleged victim is relevant if the behavior:
- Was between the complainant and the defendant; or
- Is evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior offered for the purpose of showing that the act or acts charged were not committed by the defendant; or
- Is evidence of a pattern of sexual behavior so distinctive and so closely resembling the defendant’s version of the alleged encounter with the complainant as to tend to prove that such complainant consented to the act or acts charged or behaved in such a manner as to lead the defendant reasonably to believe that the complainant consented; or
- Is evidence of sexual behavior offered as the basis of expert psychological or psychiatric opinion that the complainant fantasized or invented the act or acts charged.
Additionally, if the prosecutor references the alleged victim’s sexual history, what’s known as “opening the door,” then the defense attorney may challenge it.
North Carolina’s rape shield law prohibits the introduction of any evidence about the “sexual behavior of the complainant” other than the sexual acts at issue in the case or evidence that falls within the four exceptions.
Defending criminal charges is a complex process regulated by many laws and procedures. If you’re in need of a criminal defense attorney, contact us. We handle criminal charges in North and South Carolina.