Beyond the Walls of Violence: The Relevance of Fear in Investigation and Prosecution of Crimes


Room D October 18, 2018 1030 - 1200

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Kelsey McKay

When you think you are going to die, you do whatever you need to do to survive. What impact does fear and trauma have on the initiation, investigation and prosecution of criminal cases? What is its place in determining whether a report is taken seriously, properly documented, investigated and prosecuted? The answer may surprise you. So often the misunderstood impact of fear gives a passive voice to justice and victims are seen as hysterical rather than insightful. The normal response to trauma, violence and fear sets victims up to seem crazy or weak.

Often, conclusions about whether a report is credible, reasonable, and provable are drawn through the lens of framework, life experiences and beliefs. When a victim makes a report, there is a process by which we filter information, often resulting in critically inaccurate judgments. Information reported by the victim that may not make sense at the time, is often misinterpreted as reasonable doubt. This talk will provide insight into how decisions from a place of fear are often instinctual and valuable evidence. It will also discuss ways that investigators and prosecutors can utilize new laws to offer this evidence to a jury.