Peters and Sheffield File Pre-trial Request To Raise “Mistake Of Age” Defense And Constitutional Challenge In Statutory Rape Case
In a rare and unprecedented pre-trial motion, Doug Peters and Jason Sheffield raised a constitutional challenge to charges of Statutory Rape and Child Molestation being pursued without the client being allowed to inform the jury that he believed the alleged victim was of age.
The client, a 21-year-old college student, met a 14-year-old girl online who was pretending to be a 19-year old fitness trainer. They had intercourse at his dorm. His DNA was found inside her vagina. The defense team issued subpoenas for the alleged victim’s medical records, school records, and DFCS records, which showed that the girl had falsely accused others of rape. She was also known to be untruthful by teachers, school counselors, and coaches. The defense challenged the DNA results by showing the DNA could be there not as a result of intercourse but by the girl touching the defendant and then touching herself. The defense team also raised a constitutional challenge against Georgia’s Statutory Rape and Child Molestation statutes because they did not allow a Mistake of Age defense. Mr. Peters’ and Mr. Sheffield’s pre-trial motion was supported by research showing that currently 30 other states in the United States allow such a “mistake of age” defense to be presented to the jury.
On the morning of pretrial motions, just prior to trial, the state dismissed the indictment and allowed the defendant to enter plea to misdemeanor charges. He received First Offender probation and did not have to register on the Sex Offender Registry.