Area of Law – Evidence

An Article about Comment on complainant’s lies or exaggerations in sexual offending case

In a sexual assault or rape case the complainant’s are often exposed as telling lies or exaggerating their position.

That is the beauty of the criminal system. If enough work and preparation is done on a case the truth will often come out. It is rare to have someone re-cant the allegation (though it happens) but far more common for complainants to be caught out lying about the surrounding circumstances.

A Judge in a criminal case if commenting on their lies at all (a number of Judges restrain themselves from commenting on the evidence as that is not really their job) should be balanced about it and not just try to explain the lies away. It is an important principle as the defendant can only question the witnesses and it is for the jury to decide the facts after that.

Case law on that issue:

“Even assuming that there was any need for a comment to be made, at all (and I do not accept that there was, the passage, above, was not in any way balanced by a direction to the jury that one other possibility they might consider is that the distress of the witness in the witness box provided no explanation for any lies or exaggerations exposed in her evidence, but may in fact reflect an acknowledgment that such lies and exaggerations had been found out.”

R v Soldo [2005] VSCA 136 (27 May 2005)


Date: 01/09/2009