Legal Analyst Explains Charges in Hannah Graham Case

Posted: Updated: Oct 09, 2014 06:28 PM
Jesse Matthew is facing a class 2 felony charge of abduction with the intent to defile in connection with the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. Matthew is believed to be the last person seen with Graham on Charlottesville's downtown mall before she disappeared on Sept. 13.

The charge has sparked a lot of questions about what it actually means. The charge comes if investigators believe you detained or transported someone with the intent to do something sexual - not necessarily rape, but some kind of sexual assault.

“Intent to defile” is one of five possible charges under Virginia's abduction statute. The other four have to do with money and sex trafficking.

For purposes of their investigation, police have not released the specifics of the evidence they have collected in the Graham case.

NBC29's legal expert says it's hard to prove intent in a Virginia courtroom.

“It could be an item of clothing, it could be a hair, it could be forensic evidence of some sort. Odds are they didn't find blood in the car because that could lead to an inference of an assault or a murder, which could have led immediately to a charge of murder,” said Lloyd Snook, NBC29 legal analyst.

Snook also clarified that abduction with intent to defile in no way implies sex trafficking.

If convicted, abduction with intent to defile could put Matthew behind bars for 20 years.

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