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Ethics and the Law

Sometimes the relationship between ethics and what the law requires may not be the same or may not be clearly distinguished. While closely related, ethical responsibilities usually exceed legal duties and too often we may observe that what may be legal, may not necessarily be ethical.7

Consider the following ethical dilemmas to determine the best responses for your jurisdiction. What if—

  • In a spousal rape case, the victim meets with the detective and recants her original report of the rape. Case evidence supports the victim's initial version of events, not the recantation. What should the prosecutor do? What is the role of the victim advocate in this situation?
  • A landlord hired a convicted sex offender who raped a tenant. During a case review, it becomes clear that the landlord had a duty to warn the victim about a foreseeable risk. Should SART members notify the victim of a tort liability when the civil case could have an impact on the criminal case?
  • A victim declines the forensic exam after being transported to the hospital for fear his or her recreational drug use will be detected. Should primary responders assure the victim that he or she has nothing to worry about? The victim is also terrified that the attacker will harm him or her if the sexual assault is reported. Law enforcement knows the suspect is dangerous and wants to apprehend him. Should team members pressure the victim to report by emphasizing the dire public safety issues at stake?