The role of forensic medical evidence in the prosecution of adult sexual assault

Antonia Quadara, Bianca Fileborn, Debra Parkinson

Research output: Book/ReportOther ReportResearchpeer-review


Obtaining forensic medical evidence from victim/survivors is often a central part of investigative and case-building efforts in sexual assault prosecution. Developments in the collection, analysis and interpretation of forensic medical evidence have significantly expanded the role and influence of such evidence in the criminal justice system. Despite the expectation that forensic medical evidence will have some role to play in a case progressing through the justice system, it is not clear how this type of evidence results in actual convictions, either via a plea, or finding of guilt at trial.

On the basis on the available evidence, this paper considers whether forensic medical evidence is associated with positive legal outcomes and the role of forensic medical evidence at key decision points in the justice process. Although the progression of cases may be enabled by forensic evidence, the legal requirements to prove the offence of rape and the customs of an adversarial justice system can undermine the probative value of forensic medical evidence in many contested cases (i.e., those that go to trial).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherAustralian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9781922038227
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameACSSA Issues
PublisherAustralian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault
ISSN (Print)1833-7856
ISSN (Electronic)7833-7864

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