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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Sex Crimes > Is the Accuser’s Testimony Enough to Convict a Person of Rape in Georgia?

Is the Accuser’s Testimony Enough to Convict a Person of Rape in Georgia?


When it comes to felony sex crimes like rape, there are still some misconceptions about what Georgia law requires for a conviction. For instance, some people still assume that a jury cannot convict a defendant of rape based solely on the alleged victim’s testimony. That is not true. Another myth is that a jury will not convict a defendant accused of raping someone they previously had consensual sex with such as a spouse. Again, this is flat-out untrue.

Court of Appeals Upholds Conviction, Life Sentence of Man Charged With Raping Wife

A recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision, Rutherford v. State, provides an apt illustration of what we are talking about. In this case, prosecutors alleged the defendant “lured his estranged wife” into his car. He then beat and raped her several times before returning her to her home.

The wife’s sister took her to the hospital, where she underwent a rape exam. At the hospital, she told law enforcement that she “had sex with [the defendant] so he would stop beating her.” Police arrested the defendant a few weeks later.

A jury subsequently convicted the defendant of rape, kidnapping, and two counts of family violence. The trial court then sentenced the defendant to life without parole based on the rape and kidnapping convictions. On appeal, the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions. The Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the convictions.

Specifically, the defendant challenged his conviction for rape based solely on his wife’s testimony. He pointed to the wife’s admission at trial that she’d had consensual sex with him four days before the alleged rape, and that she “willingly” had sex with him on the day in question “so that he would stop beating her.” But the Court of Appeals replied that it was “well established that a victim’s testimony, without more, is sufficient to sustain a conviction of rape.” Nor was it a defense to rape that the victim was the defendant’s spouse or previously agreed to consensual sex.

Even the fact there may have been some inconsistencies between what the wife initially told the police and her trial testimony did not necessarily discredit her, the Court of Appeals cautioned. The jury heard expert testimony that “it was not uncommon for sexual assault survivors to have ‘disjointed’ memories and to remember additional details later.” Ultimately, the jury was allowed to resolve any inconsistencies in favor of believing the wife’s testimony that the defendant raped her.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

It is not uncommon for a person to be accused or rape or assault by a spouse or intimate partner. You should never assume that such allegations will “go away” or not be taken seriously by the courts. Indeed, you must always prepare to defend yourself vigorously against any sex crimes allegation.

If you need to speak with an experienced Atlanta sex crime defense attorney, contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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