Any type of assault will leave you physically and mentally shattered, but a sexual assault has far-reaching consequences. One out of every six women in the United States is either a victim of sexual assault or was involved in an attempt of rape. In contrast, one in every 33 men is a victim of sexual violence. These numbers are disturbing for a developed country like the US. Yet, despite the prevalence of this heinous crime, not all come forward and report it.
The stigma and shame surrounding the topic keep them from reporting, while many women and men of color don’t trust the system enough to report the crime. If you are willing to report the crime and have identified your predator, you will also be required to file a case in court. This is when you require a strong attorney to make a good case and present all the evidence in court. Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys are well established and have won many sexual assault cases in court. If you want to have a good chance at winning the case, you will need them to be on your side, representing you in court.
There are a few things you should expect when you report a sexual assault. The top 5 things are mentioned here.
If you report the sexual assault within seven days (168 hrs.), you will be asked to get a SART test. This is a consensual test performed by Sexual Assault Response Team nurses who have special training to deal with any bodily evidence. This is a head-to-toe test in which several swab tests will be performed on your body to gather any DNA of the perpetrator. The nurses will provide any first aid that you require, tend to any wounds that need instant attention. The victim must also be cooperative and informed of any injury that could pose to be important evidence. Each injury is documented; photos can also be taken if the victim is comfortable with it.
Forensic evidence can only be collected if the victim has not been touched in the last three days. If the victim bathed or showered, then there are chances that the evidence was vandalized.
2. The Evidence Gathering
If you decide to report the assault, you must not do a few things, including bathing or showering, changing clothes or throwing them away, changing the crime scene, taking drugs, etc. In case of a sexual assault, the area where the assault was done is important, but the victim also carries enough evidence to register a case. The police and the forensic team are responsible for investigating the complete area and collecting the tiniest evidence.
The SART test results also play an important part in the evidence gathering. The injuries of the victim and the personal testimony that is presented can be enough to get the assaulter convicted. If a criminal case is not filed, civil charges can be filed.
3. Record an Interview
If the case is being investigated, you will be interviewed by a detective from the Sexual Assault Section. Within two weeks of your case registration, someone will reach out to you from this section and schedule an interview with you. This will typically be at a police headquarters while you will be given complete police protection. When you arrive at the pre-decided time, you will be guided to a comfortable room where only you and the detective will be present. It is very important to trust the person completely and not hide any information.
The interview will be about the incident and you will be required to remember each detail from that day. A small detail that you might consider to be irrelevant could be course-changing for the case. The most uncomfortable of the details will add weight to your case.
4. The Direction of Your Investigation
The direction of the investigation will depend on a number of factors. The most essential factor is the police officer responsible for investigating your case; he is normally the first officer. The police can request a crown prosecutor; this prosecutor will state your chances of getting a conviction. Once the investigation is complete, the police will also let you know what legal options you have. If you don’t want to go to court right away, you can file a case and then pursue it at a later date.
In case no charges are pressed, that doesn’t mean the system doesn’t believe you; there are numerous reasons for it. Lack of evidence is one of the most common grounds on which the police can’t press charges. Despite all this, you can go ahead and take your assaulter to court; the process can take up to 2 years.
5. It’s a Long Process
If you decide to press charges and take your assaulter to court, it is an uphill battle from there onwards. It doesn’t get easy for the victim; in many cases, the victim is shamed, and a lot is said and done due to societal pressures. It doesn’t get any easier by moving to court; on the contrary, it can get more difficult. The legal system can take years before you get justice. But taking up the case and standing up for yourself means that you have won half the fight. Sexual assault is a very serious crime, and the people committing it are mostly habitual of it. If not for yourself, stand up for the people who could be the next target. Sexual violence is not limited to one gender anymore; men, women, and children are all victims.
Once an assault is reported, it will forever stay within the system, and you never know the assaulter can be prosecuted at some point in time. Silence is never an option when it comes to violence. Many people also consider out-of-court settlement since the perpetrator doesn’t want to deal with the public nature of the trial. If you are a victim of sexual assault, it is critical to understand the importance of legal action and the available options. Contact a firm that has sexual assault experts and seek justice.