Plea Bargain or Trial?: Effects of Evidence on Three Legal Professionals' Expectations of Rape Case Disposition

Chang-Hun Lee, Michigan State University
Yung-Hyeock Lee, Michigan State University

ABSTRACT
The purpose of this study is to investigate different effects of testimonial evidence, nontestimonial evidence and victim's credibility on three legal professionals' expectations of rape case disposition after the offender is charged. It is suggested that the legal professionals would weight each type of evidence differently because of their different predictions of convictability on the basis of victim's credibility and their different case processing strategies in rape cases. Analyzed with the binary logistic regression model, when rape victims do not have reputation of promiscuity, the data indicate that: 1) prosecutors expect more trial when the victims have no prior felony conviction. In contrast, prosecutors expect more plea negotiation when there are corroborating witnesses for rape offenses involving promiscuous victims; 2) defense attorneys' expectations of trial increases upon existence of physical evidence; and 3) judges' expectations of trial increases when there is evidence that shows the victim resisted. In addition, the findings indicate when the victims have reputation of promiscuity, defense attorneys and judges are ambivalent in their expectations of the rape case dispositions. Findings suggest that even after the rape law reform victim's credibility is still significant factor affecting legal agencies' decisionmaking in rape cases process.

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Updated 05/20/2006