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How Can a SART Exam Be Used to Defend a Sex Crime Case?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Apr 14, 2023

Usually, when we talk about these SART exams, also called a “rape kit,” which stands for suspected abuse response team and is a term used to describe an evidentiary medical forensic exam. This means they're examining you and trying to build a case that somehow you raped another individual, for example. So that's usually when I see these SART exams being used.

SART Exam in a Rape Case

The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is a community-based team coordinating the response to victims of sexual assault. The team may comprise a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE), hospital personnel, sexual assault victim advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and other professionals with a specific interest in assisting victims of sexual assault.

From a defense standpoint, though, we expect to see certain things in a SART exam if somebody is accused of California Penal Code 261 PC rape. So, for example, there should be some tearing in the vagina region and other signs that an individual was raped. 

So, if we see that there were no signs of rape, then we're able many times to argue that this SART exam shows that the defendant is innocent. 

Sometimes we can even get expert nurses, for example, who have conducted SART exams in the past, but now work for the defense to testify that they would expect to see certain things that they're not seeing in this particular exam if, in fact, the facts and circumstances that the alleged victim is describing occurred.

Review of the Case Details

So, these SART exams can often help a defendant in a criminal case.  First and foremost, we need to do the following:

  • sit down, talk about the case, and figure out exactly what happened;
  • whether you were involved with the alleged victim;
  • what happened, why it happened, and
  • look at the SART exam as well.

Because many times I've seen my clients being able to pick up some inconsistencies with what happened during the alleged attack. 

Once you evaluate it, once I've considered it, we're going to sit down and talk about it and see if maybe we want to have an expert assess it and also talk about some of the findings in there that we can use to help ourselves to defend the case if it's the type of case that needs to be defended. 

Seeking a Lesser Charge

Even if there are some inconsistencies, they have other evidence aside from that; this may be used to mitigate things to get you a lesser charge and punishment. 

SART exams are essential.  They've been around for a long time because it allows the prosecutor to let somebody look at the evidence from a forensic standpoint during the medical evaluation.

They can then use that person as a witness to go through what is called a rape kit, which is this SART exam, where they're looking at all of the aspects of what happened and trying to compare that to what the victim claims happened.

So, SART exams are essential for both prosecution and defense.  If you or a loved one is charged with Penal Code 261 PC rape and you need the best representation, let me put my 30 years of experience defending these cases to work for you. Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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