When a person finds themselves under investigation for a sexual assault, they may feel worried about their immediate future. However, the more an accused individual knows about the investigative process, the better their chances may become at rendering a positive outcome to their case.
If you have been formally charged in West Palm Beach, reach out to one of our defense Attorneys at Leifert & Leifert. They could sit with you to understand the details of what happened and help you avoid self-incrimination throughout the investigation.
How Does a Sexual Assault Investigation Begin?
Sexual assault cases typically begin with a complaint. For a complaint to happen, the victim will have to tell police that they have been sexually assaulted. Once law enforcement gains knowledge of what occurred, they will try to find out what happened, how it happened, and where it happened. Once the complainant provides this information, they may have to undergo a rape exam. A rape exam is a thorough examination of a person’s body, aimed to collect forensic evidence such as DNA. This type of evidence could be collected through saliva, semen, urine, and other types of bodily fluids.
Law enforcement would also look for any injuries that may have been sustained by the complainant. To gather this evidence, the complainant would be subject to an internal exam to see if there are any internal injuries. For females, the exam may be done intra-vaginally or intra-anally. For males, the test would be done intra-anally.
Role of a Victim Advocate?
Complainants often find themselves to be in poor condition both emotionally and physically. As a result, they may feel uncomfortable recalling or even thinking about what happened to them. The role of the victim advocate is to encourage the complainant to go through the process of retelling their version of what happened and undergo any tests necessary for gathering forensic evidence. They also serve as a representative on behalf of the victim in terms of response and concerns with the prosecutor, and perhaps even with the court if the victim is not able to communicate. However, the advocate is not allowed to testify on behalf of the alleged victim. Instead, the advocate can testify to the effects of the alleged assault on the complainant.
Which Agencies Handle Sexual Assault Cases in West Palm Beach?
In West Palm Beach, the West Palm Beach Police Department would handle these investigations. If they are in the unincorporated area of West Palm Beach, it would be the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that would handle this type of case. Each of these departments have a special unit within their departments to handle these types of cases. They are called the Special Victim Unit, or SVU. There is also a Sexual Assault Unit because sexual assault victims are treated much differently. The Sexual Assault Unit may also be tasked with dealing with these types of cases.
Efforts Made Towards Protecting the Privacy of the Alleged Victim
During the investigation, the identity of the victim would remain confidential. However, once charges are brought forward, then the case will become public, and both the accuser and the accused will be named in a report. A judge or a prosecutor may protect that name and have it redacted from public records. However, the accused and their attorney will know exactly who is making the accusations against them. In that respect, there is no right to privacy if they are in criminal court.
Tools and Tactics Used to Gather Evidence
Tools or tactics used to collect this evidence include verbal statements, videotape, or audiotape. A written statement could also be made by the accuser. Law enforcement may also seek to collect photographs of any injuries or marks. Polygraphs or lie detectors may also be used during investigation. Although, polygraphs and lie detectors are not admissible in the state of Florida. However, they could be used as investigative tools if they believe that the accuser is not telling the truth
Collecting Evidence When a Victim Does not Come Forward
When alleged victims wait a long time to come forward to the police, the evidence on their body could go away. For example, if they take a shower, most of the evidence on their body may be difficult to recover. However, if there are marks on their body, such as bruising or scratches, law enforcement may still be able to use that as evidence.
In some cases, investigators may be able to gather evidence from the clothes worn at the time of the alleged offense. If the victim did not clean their clothes, they could prove valuable for forensic evidence.
Consult with an Attorney Today
Being accused of committing sexual assault may render you subject to an investigation led by the SVU force in West Palm Beach. Do not hesitate in taking action to protect yourself from the severe penalties that await you following a conviction. To learn more about building a solid defense, be sure to reach out to one of our knowledgeable criminal Attorneys at Leifert & Leifert today.