How Long Do Sexual Assault Cases Take?
If you face sexual assault charges in Michigan, you may wonder how long the case will take. To determine this, you must consider the hours of prep work required to build a viable defense for sexual assault cases.
How Long Do Sexual Assault Cases Take?
It is important to remember that there are unique factors and specific circumstances in each sexual assault case. Due to this, providing a general timeline is almost impossible. One of the best things you can do if you face sexual abuse charges is to hire an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer who understands the process and what is involved. This is true for both civil and criminal cases. Having an attorney who understands the law and what must be done to build sexual assault defense strategies is invaluable.
Many people first report cases of sexual abuse or assault through the National Sexual Assault Hotline. Callers can remain anonymous if they desire. However, many are encouraged to move forward and file a civil suit against the accused party or contact the police and have them arrested for their actions. In some cases, both are possible.
Understanding more about the legal process used when facing sexual assault charges will help you better understand how long the case will take. Learn how to beat a sexual assault charge here.
Serious Sexual Assault Cases
To better understand timelines for sexual assault cases, it is a good idea to take an example. If you face statutory rape charges, this requires extensive disclosure, forensic evidence, video statements, and (in most cases) multiple days at trial presenting the criminal sexual conduct defense that was created. This is true no matter if it is a trial being decided by a judge or jury.
Here, you will learn about the process involved, from being charged with the crime to the end of the trial. Most people are surprised about what the answer is.
Properly defending a client against any sexual assault charge (or sex crime) requires a lot of detailed work and time. It is not easy to provide a specific estimate (as mentioned above) due to the different facts of each case. While this is true, you can expect these charges to take between a minimum of 150 hours to several hundred hours to complete. More complex cases may require over 500 hours of time and research.
Through the process, multiple court appearances, and a review and analysis of what our client discloses about the alleged sexual assault are required, before the trial starts, there are multiple meetings with our client, judges, and even the prosecuting attorney. There is also an extensive and laborious preparation period for the trial.
The fact is that it is not our job to prove you are innocent in these cases. The legal process in the U.S. puts the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove guilt. While this is true, and it may seem like this would reduce the work we have to do, it is still necessary to build a viable defense. Criminal cases are rarely simple, and even if they are, there is still a court process that must be followed, which can result in even more time to finalize the case.
Understanding the Investigation Process for Sexual Assault, Sexual Abuse, and Other Sex Crimes
If a law enforcement officer sees you commit a sex crime, this is enough for them to arrest you immediately. However, this is not what typically happens. In other situations, someone is accused of sexual assault by witnesses (or the victim), and the police decide there is enough evidence to press charges. Learn how to know if you are being investigated by the police here.
Police make decisions based on the available evidence. In many of these situations, the police can send the case to the prosecutor and have confidence that the evidence will ensure a conviction. However, many cases are not like this. In these situations, a police investigation is required to prove allegations of sexual assault.
Who is Responsible for Investigating Sexual Assaults?
This is a good question to ask. In cases of sexual abuse and sexual assault, it may not be the local police who investigate the situation. However, if a sex crime is something they are called to, then they will conduct the investigation.
In many situations, things are “messed up” by the police. One reason is that traditional police officers do not have the training to know what to look for or the type of physical evidence to preserve in these situations. In many cases, they may miss important evidence or misconstrue the situation.
Due to this, in many situations, the people who investigate charges of sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, or other sex crimes have specialty training to deal with these situations. They have experience and access to prosecutors who can help with the investigation process to build a strong case to take to criminal court.
In most sex crime cases, there is much more to the situation than what is on the surface. Even some of the most decorated detectives in Michigan do not have the know-how or resources to deal with these situations. It is necessary to go to the prosecutors to discuss the situation. There are sex crime prosecutors who only work with these types of cases throughout the state. While they will take the case to trial, they also help with the investigation to ensure the process is handled properly.
Since of all of these investigators and prosecutors know-how, you must find a law firm specializing in sexual assault defense. Criminal charges involving sexual abuse, sexual violence, sexual assault, and other sex crimes have potentially serious consequences. Having the best sexual assault lawyers for your case is a must to help you achieve a more desirable final outcome to the situation.
Why Do Sex Crimes Take So Long to Investigate?
When there are doubts that sexual assault or sexual abuse occurred, this is typically clear immediately. Even in situations where it is clear, the police may not arrest the accused person right away.
As mentioned above, a detective will handle the investigation. The process can take months or years to investigate and prosecute. There are several reasons for this. Some of these reasons include:
- There are not enough detectives in most jurisdictions to handle the many sexual assault cases that are being filed
- Many law enforcement agencies are understaffed, while others are under attack by various groups, leaving few people to handle accusations of someone being sexually assaulted and similar charges
- Prosecutors are extremely busy, and (as mentioned above) it takes a lot of time to review accusations, investigate the situation, and decide if criminal charges will be filed
It is the Prosecution’s Job to Press Charges
Another factor to consider when being investigated for sexual abuse or sexual assault accusations is that after the police have finished their investigation of the situation, they must take the information and evidence they have to the prosecutors. Usually, prosecutors are extremely busy.
This means that after the police have taken a while to handle their part of the job, the prosecutors will take just as long (if not longer) to decide if filing charges is the right option. Additionally, for situations where the case is “close,” prosecutors may give it back to the police. When this happens, no charges are filed until the police collect more evidence and information about the situation. Learn more about how long a sexual assault investigation can take here.
Evidence Used in Sexual Assault Cases
Law enforcement officers will look for and use several types of evidence when investigating potential sexual assault cases.
Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination
Based on Michigan law, every victim of sexual assault has the right to undergo a medical forensic examination. This includes an evidence kit or rape kit, that can be collected for up to five days after the alleged assault occurs. Even if no charges have been filed and a person contacts the National Sexual Assault Hotline for help, they have this right.
This exam includes taking the victim’s medical history and conducting a medical exam, which is conducted by a sexual assault nurse examiner. Usually, it includes a genital, anal, and oral exam, depending on the type of abuse the sexually assaulted individual experienced. Any needed lab tests will be conducted, and pharmacy items and medications will be included as part of the exam. The medical attention needed can be done in the emergency room or by a person’s doctor. A victim should have a support person with them during this process, as it can be challenging.
It is worth mentioning that the evidence that is gathered from this exam can be used against the accused party. Some of the evidence that is taken includes bodily fluids, bite marks, saliva, and more. It is a good idea to contact a law office with experience handling criminal defense for these cases to ensure you have the best possible representation for the sexual assault charges you are facing.
When a prosecutor considers if they will file charges against someone who is accused of sexual assault, they will have to consider the evidence and any time limit in place. If you deny having touched the victim in the case, DNA testing may be required. This is something else that can take a lot of time.
While DNA testing is not used for all sexual assault cases, if it is required, it can extend the time of the case even more.
What Determines if a Sex Crime will be Charged as a Misdemeanor or Felony?
It is worth noting that securing a felony conviction is more challenging than securing a misdemeanor conviction in cases of sexual abuse or sexual violence.
Some crimes, like rape, tend to always be charged as a felony (learn how to get a felony off your record in Michigan here). However, other crimes are often not as clear.
In many cases, it is up to the prosecution to determine how a crime will be charged. Determining this requires the prosecution to look at the person’s prior sex crime charges and convictions. They will also consider the type of sex act committed and a person’s standing in the community. Usually, the impact on the victim is considered, too.
It is important to remember that many people call the National Sexual Assault Hotline for assistance. If they identify themselves during this call, this can also be used as evidence. It may also serve as the catalyst for the prosecution to determine that the sexually assaulted party is telling the truth; therefore, the charge should be more serious.
When law enforcement investigates allegations of sexual assault or sexual violence, they will also consider if the person is a threat to society.
Due to the seriousness of the charges, it is important to contact a law firm that specializes in criminal sexual conduct cases right away. While waiting may be tempting, it is simply not a good idea. You need a CSC defense lawyer representing you long before your first court date is scheduled.
Why You Need to Find a Law Firm that Specializes in Sex Crime Defense
Having a law firm is important if you are being investigated for any type of sex crime, including someone who claims you sexually abused them. Even if you are confident you will be seen as innocent, having a criminal sexual conduct attorney is a good idea. Law enforcement officers will do everything they can to gather evidence to help prove your guilt. You need a criminal defense attorney on your side, providing a strong defense against the potential charges.
Make sure you contact the right law firm and have an attorney working on your behalf from the initial report of sexual abuse to the final ruling in the courtroom. Even if you have only heard rumors that someone called the National Sexual Assault Hotline and reported that you sexually abused them or someone else, getting in touch with a lawyer is not a bad idea. Learn what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer here.
Even if your attorney contacts the detective or prosecutors, and no decision has been made, it is best to have a buffer present. Your attorney will serve as that buffer. You want to avoid a situation where the investigators, police, and prosecutors come to speak to you. When you have an attorney, they can handle all communication on your behalf. This will help reduce the likelihood of mistakes and ensure that you do not say something that may be self-incriminating. Learn what happens if you don’t talk to a detective here.
Having an attorney early in the process may also make it possible to start negotiations with the prosecution before charges are formally filed. This will ensure that the legal opinion of the situation does not come into play or impact your consequences. In this situation, you can decide if you want to accept what the prosecution offers, which provides you with a “sure thing.” While the offer may not always be appealing, it is still worth considering.
When negotiations occur before charges are filed, it is called pre-filing intervention. During this, your rape defense attorney will negotiate with prosecutors and other law enforcement agents to help put together a mitigation package.
Remember, the National Sexual Assault Hotline’s purpose is to support those who believe they have been assaulted or abused. If you are accused of this crime, the litigation process can take a lot of time and result in several issues for you and your family.
Are Criminal Charges the Only Issue when Accused of Sexual Assault?
Unwanted sexual contact can result in you facing criminal charges and a civil suit. If the alleged victim of the sexual abuse files a civil case, it may coincide with the criminal charges you are facing, making the situation more difficult and stressful. As a type of personal injury lawsuit, this civil suit can result in the victim being awarded monetary compensation. If the ruling is against you in this case, you will likely face financial hardships as you try to find the funds to pay for the lawsuit that has been filed.
It is also worth remembering that it is possible for a sexual abuse victim can file a civil lawsuit up to 15 years after it occurs in Michigan. Also, the time limitation may be waived if DNA evidence is available. This is why you must contact an attorney as soon as you can. Learn how much a sex offender lawyer costs here.
Contact Us Today for Help with Your Sexual Assault Case
You can not wait to contact an attorney when it comes to sex crime charges. Remember, the litigation process can be challenging, and, without legal help, you may face serious consequences.
If someone contacts the National Sexual Assault Hotline and accuses you of sexual abuse, we are here to help.
When you contact Blank Law, PC, you can schedule a free consultation by texting or calling the office at (248) 515–6583, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have years of experience providing strong and aggressive defenses for Michigan residents who have been accused of any type of sex crime.
You should not wait to contact us. The sooner we can get involved with your case, the sooner we will be able to help build a viable defense for your situation. We are here to help. You do not have to face this stressful and difficult time alone. We are here to help with any type of sex crime charge you are facing. We will also work to help you reduce the amount of time that the case takes to conclude.