Call us on: 01903 918764

Ask A Lawyer: Will my sexual history be read out in Court?

Ask A Lawyer: Will my sexual history be read out in Court?

We asked Mark Savage, one of our legal team, ‘will my sexual history be read out in Court?:

Many women, particularly those who are the victims of rape and sexual abuse often ask whether their sexual history will be read out in Court or whether they will be cross examined about their previous sexual history if they complain about sexual abuse.

In the bad old days, before the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act, women who complained about their partners were often subjected to extensive, unnecessary and hostile questioning about their sexual history in an attempt to both humiliate and undermine their credibility.

Thankfully, both Society and the Court have matured in their approach to questioning. it is no longer automatic that the Courts will allow such cross examination, or indeed read evidence.

the Courts will not allow for any questioning about previous sexual behaviour unless it is relevant to the incident for which the defendant is to be tried. There will be no lengthy and humiliating questions about past incidents, proper questions can only be put to any witness, firstly if leave, ie, permission is given by the trial judge for such proper and relevant questions to be put. The questions must be put only if there is relevant evidence about sexual behaviour. An application for leave has to be made in writing, and the Defendants lawyers must show that they can satisfy the Judge that it is relevant.

The fairly recent case involving the footballer Ched Evans caused widespread concern. Let me explain why it should not. Ched Evans, and his friend had sex with a young woman. Both had a trial. Mr. Evans was convicted after trial, and spent 2 1/2 years in prison. He had a retrial. Evidence was put in his retrial, that was specific. The Judge refused the evidence to allow the evidence to be put to the complainant in the first trial. The evidence was so specific, and so relevant, that the second trial Judge allowed the evidence to go before the Court. He was acquitted on retrial.

S41 of the YJCEA requires the evidence to be so similar to the complainants behaviour at the time of the complaint. It is for the Defendant to establish the true relevance of the evidence to the issues in the case in which you are to give evidence. The Judge has to be satisfied that the evidence is relevant to the issues of the case.

This does not mean that questions cannot be put in an attempt to undermine the credibility of the witness. Proper and relevant questions can be put, and the test is specific, and quite a hurdle for the defendant to overcome.

it is not automatic, even if the questions may have relevance, for the trial Judge to give permission to question anyone on their previous sexual history. It would never be read out in Court, and neither should it. The Court exists to ensure that each witness, both the Defendant and the Complainant give their best evidence. You may not have to appear in the same Courtroom as the Defendant, evidence can be given by videolink, you can give evidence behind screens so that the Defendant cannot see you. Gone are the days where further control can be exerted against you by humiliation in Court, and that is progress.

Questions cannot be put to humiliate, it is a poor advocate who tries such a tactic, and I can guarantee that any Judge will quickly slap down such tactics.

Giving evidence can be traumatic, Witness support are worth their weight in gold for providing guidance. Take the opportunity to familiarise yourself with the Courtroom before giving evidence. It is a Courtroom, not a cockpit. Speak about your concerns to your barrister, more importantly, remember, if your history is not relevant, it is not heard. It is a hard test to overcome for the defendant.

Always remember this, if he tells you, “All your past will come out”, he is both wrong, and bullying. Don’t let a threat stand in the way of the truth.

1 Comment
  1. “Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I’m impressed! Very helpful information specially the closing section 🙂 I maintain such information much. I used to be looking for this particular info for a long time. Thanks and good luck. “

Leave a Reply

The Daisy Chain Project

Domestic Abuse Prevention Charity- Legal advice
The Daisy Chain Project
The Daisy Chain Project
Does anybody know how to connect a xerox workcentre printer to the network- we have WiFi and an Ethernet cable but it’s not letting us print. Thank you
The Daisy Chain Project
The Daisy Chain Project
We have lots of exciting stuff to come so have been busy beavering away behind the scenes. You can expect our first book in around December time, which deals with domestic abuse for children aged 3-7.

We also have some more media opportunities coming our way, a trip to court, and a few more bits and pieces.

As ever if you need us, contact info@thedaisychainproject.com

#domesticabuse #lawyers #probono
The Daisy Chain Project
The Daisy Chain Project
Thank you, Waitrose, for your £348 donation ❤️
The Daisy Chain Project
The Daisy Chain Project
We’re so excited 🙂
The Daisy Chain Project
The Daisy Chain Project
Is anyone able to help us make and edit a video about domestic abuse? We’d like to make more interactive content as we appreciate people viewing our resources may learn in different ways 🌈
The Daisy Chain Project
The Daisy Chain Project
We are desperately seeking more lawyers to join our team. We give pro bono legal advice to victims of domestic abuse via an email inbox. If you are a family, crime, or housing practitioner and can spare some time on an ad hoc basis to help us we would really appreciate it!

#probono #legaladvice #domesticabuse

We want to branch into being able to be at our office full time. Does anyone know of any funding we can get to employ people? Thank you!

RT @ukhomeoffice: Gay men are more than twice as likely to be victims of #DomesticAbuse.*
Survivor @MattJLloyd tells us how he found the strength to leave an abusive relationship. https://t.co/vo0Efo6RDV
_TDCP_ photo

We would also like to hear from anyone who has self published a children’s book ❤️

Now we have our manuscript we are needing an illustrator to do lovely big, colourful pictures for our children’s book on domestic abuse. Does anyone have any recommendations?

First draft of our children’s book is complete. Thanks to everyone who donated personally, as well as @KatyBourne @SussexPCC, and @waitrose ❤️