Case Caption: Ashley Williams v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2007-0008Date: 09/12/2011Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: Summary:

In an appeal from convictions for rape and unlawful sexual contact, the contention that the trial court erred when it failed, sua sponte, to include an instruction on the affirmative defense of consent when instructing the jury, when no objection or request was made, is reviewed under the plain error standard and is rejected. The trial court gave jury instructions on the elements of the charges as listed in the statute, and the statutory language, "when the person's resistance is prevented by fear of immediate and great bodily harm," is synonymous with a "lack of consent." Thus, the trial court's failure to use the word "consent" in its final instructions did not result in prejudice or influence on the verdicts, nor did such failure constitute a violation of constitutional rights because the instructions that were given by the court intrinsically and adequately addressed the issue of consent. The failure of the trial court to grant defendant's Rule 29(a) motion for judgment of acquittal on two of the eight counts was not error because, based on the record, a rational juror could find that there was sufficient evidence to support the essential elements of the crime under 14 V.I.C. § 1701(3). The Superior Court's judgment and the jury's verdicts are affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion