Resolution Regarding False Allegations and Their Harmful Effects on Victims

It is the sense of [name of legislative body] that—

1.   A national survey found 9.7% of persons reported they had been falsely accused of domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse (1).

2.   Victim-rights groups, judges, and others have decried the fact that false allegations harm true victims (2). Such accusations take away services, protections, and credibility from victims of violent crimes.

3.   False allegations undermine the presumption of innocence. Legal scholars worry that the presumption of innocence has been severely eroded in many areas of the law (3).

4. Several reports have documented the problem of wrongful convictions:

a.      An analysis of 873 criminal exonerations by the National Registry of Exonerations found that 35% had been wrongfully convicted of sexual assault, in many cases as a result of a false accusation (4).

b.      A Department of Justice-funded study of DNA samples from Virginia found 15% of sexual assault convictions were wrongful (5).

c.      The Department of Justice announced in July, 2012 a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether persons had been wrongly convicted (6).

5.   Key stakeholders should take note of the problem of false allegations and wrongful convictions, and take appropriate measures to prevent and sanction these problems. Training programs for criminal justice personnel should address the identification and appropriate legal response to false allegations.

Citations:

1.       SAVE. One in Ten has Been Falsely Accused. 2011. http://www.saveservices.org/falsely-accused/survey/

2.       SAVE. Victims are Harmed by False Allegations, Advocates Say. 2012. http://www.saveservices.org/falsely-accused/sex-assault/victim-advocates-speak-out/

3.       SAVE. Restore the Presumption of Innocence. http://www.saveservices.org/innocence

4.      Gross SR, Schaffer M. Exonerations in the United States, 1989 – 2012: Report by the National Registry of Exonerations. June 2012. http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Documents/exonerations_us_1989_2012_full_report.pdf

5.      Roman R, Walsh K, Lachman P, Yahner J. Post-Conviction DNA Testing and Wrongful Conviction. Washington, DC. Urban Institute. June, 2012. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/238816.pdf

6.     Spencer Hsu. Justice Dept., FBI to review use of forensic evidence in thousands of cases. Washington Post. July 10, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/justice-dept-fbi-to-review-use-of-forensic-evidence-in-thousands-of-cases/2012/07/10/gJQAT6DlbW_story.html