Practice Points: Themes and Theme-Related Defenses in Sexual Assault Cases

Lawyers employ themes at trial because themes are memorable and can be used as teaching tools. Some lawyers believe jurors are more inclined to assume guilt in a sexual assault case. Even if this belief is true, it does not change the strategies of persuasion the defense will use when trying a sexual assault case. Themes stick. A probable reality in these cases is that jurors want to know how a false accusation could have been made. Keith Belzer offers themes and theme-related defenses for cases involving sexual assault allegations. One advantage of brainstorming themes is that it forces the defense team to try to figure out what happened. The development of a theme helps to answer the following question: Why are we here if an assault did not occur?