Dateline: November, 2007, Issue 5

Do male or female defense attorneys get more acquittals in rape trials?

When a female defense attorney defends a man accused of rape, jurors are more likely to believe the case against the defendant is not as strong.

Villemur and Hyde (1983) found that in rape trials, if the defendant is represented by a female attorney as compared to a male attorney, the rate of acquittal increases from 49% to 71%. The most frequent reasons given for acquittal were reasonable doubt and the victim's lack of resistance.

Yanchar (1982/1983) reports similar results, finding that if the defendant is represented by a female attorney, the acquittal rate goes from 48% to 69%.

Female attorneys get more acquittals than male attorneys in rape trials.

Source Villemur, N. K., & Hyde, J. S. (1983). Effects of sex of defense attorney, sex of juror, and age and attractiveness of victim on mock juror decision making in a rape case. Sex Roles, 9, pp. 879-889.

Source Yanchar, N. V. (1983). Subject-juror decision-making in rape cases. Effects of status of the complainant and gender of the defense attorney, the prosecuting attorney, and the subject-juror. Dissertation Abstracts International, 43, p. 2364B.