Sufficiency of the evidence of a criminal conviction can be and often is reviewed on direct appeal of that conviction. However, the appellate court does not reevaluate what facts should have been believed or rejected by a jury. It is the function of the jury to make factual determinations from the evidence presented. An appellate court will consider the facts in a light most favorable to the jury verdict, and only review whether there were facts presented upon which the verdict could be based. In the recent Tennessee case of State v. Kromah, M2011-01813-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 3-1-2013), the Court of Criminal Appeals reviewed the facts presented at trial to determine whether the evidence was sufficient for the Defendant's conviction of sexual battery by an authority figure. The Court ultimately concluded that it was.
In the Kromah case, the Defendant was accused of inappropriate and illegal sexual contact with his adopted daughter. According to the teenage victim's allegations, the Defendant on multiple occasions fondled her breasts without her consent. The victim said when she objected to the Defendant touching her there, the Defendant told her he was just showing her what boys are going to do to her. Eventually she recorded a conversation with the Defendant about the incidents, where she accused him of touching her inappropriately. In the conversation, the Defendant asked for forgiveness.
After being convicted of a single count of sexual battery by an authority figure, the Defendant argued on appeal that the evidence was not sufficient because the proof had not shown the touching was for the purpose of sexual gratification, which is an element which must be proven to support a conviction of sexual battery. The Defendant argued instead that the touching was a form of discipline to show the victim what boys would do to her if she dated older boys.
The Court of Criminal Appeals determined that the question of whether the touching was for sexual gratification was an issue to be decided by the jury, and that there were sufficient facts from which the jury could arrive at the conclusion that it was. The jury was free to reject the Defendant's explanation of the purpose of his conduct.
For more information regarding the sufficiency of the evidence for conviction of a particular crime, contact Hindman & Associates.