Interviewer: Does it matter the relative rank of the two people involved? What if the female has a higher rank or lower rank, or one’s an officer and one’s not, does that affect it?
Chris Cazares: Rank will always play a role in the deliberative process. If a higher ranking individual has sexually assaulted or is accused of sexually assaulted a lower ranking individual, there’s already going to be bias of are they using their rank as their influence to gain sexual favors.
The rank disparity in and of itself is often charged as a crime. But for the most part, you see similarly ranked individuals involved in these cases.
However though, the ones that get the most notoriety are always going to be the high pressure situations where you have somebody with a lot to lose, that has attained a high rank and is accused of abusing their power and authority in coercing other individuals into doing something they did not want to do, such as having sexual relations.
Is the Use of Alcohol a Component in Many Sexual Assault Cases?
Interviewer: When alcohol is involved, what percentage of cases is alcohol involved, is it all of them or that is an overstatement?
Alcohol Is Known To Be a Component in the Majority of Sexual Assault Cases Occurring in a Military Setting
Chris Cazares: I think for the peer-to-peer type of assault charges, it’s almost the majority of the cases, upwards of 75%. I think in sexual assault occurring between strangers, alcohol is also a factor.
Alcohol is involved in the majority of the cases. However, in the cases where the accused is abusing his or her of power, alcohol is not a major component.
When you do see alcohol involved in this situation, it’s almost as a social conduit and one thing leads to another and at some point there’s just a misunderstanding that happened.
Jury Perception When the Accused Is a Military Member
Interviewer: Do you encounter many cases where the male will be in the military but the female will be a civilian? Does that change the judicial process?
Chris Cazares: I think it changes the way you want to defend the military member, particularly when you’re dealing with a civilian. This is because depending on the location of the assault, depending on the factors involved, it’s going to change the perception that the jury has of your client.
The Character of a Military Member Is a Factor for the Defense Attorney to Utilize
For instance, if it becomes a situation where the prosecution paints a predatory type individual, that’s going to play a role in how you defend your client. You may want to bring up his military service. So when the judge instructs the members, if you find that this person has good military character based on the testimony of these individuals that have come forward and talked about it, that alone can be a basis for reasonable doubt and to find him not guilty.
That could play a huge role, or if you end up wanting to have your client testify, you’re going to obtain the character for truthfulness affidavit and you’re going to build up your client’s credibility.
An Experienced Defense Attorney Can Ascertain Details about the Military members that comprise the Jury Just by viewing them during the Trial
As a defense attorney in a military setting, when you have your client sitting next to you observe eight of those military members, and immediately you ascertain something about each of them.
You can see their ribbon rack and see where they’ve been. So there’s a huge amount of credibility that goes on the moment you sit down in front of a jury.
It Is More Difficult to Glean Information about a Civilian Jury by Observing Them
When you have a civilian jury, it is almost impossible to ascertain details about someone just by looking at them. You don’t know where they work and you don’t know what they do every day. There’s an unknown factor, and when you take that unknown factor, I think you really have to go with a strong defense for your client.
Interviewer: Is it almost easier for a defense if alcohol is involved? Or, does it make the case harder to defend?
Is Alcohol Usage a Limiting Aspect in a Defense of Sexual Assault?
Chris Cazares: It is really just a case by case factor. If one person blacked out, maybe your client blacked out and then you can’t raise the mistaken fact defense.