If you or someone you care about has been charged with a sex crime, then you may be feeling frightened. You should be, many crimes in Oregon (especially sex crimes) carry mandatory minimum sentences. These crimes are taken extremely seriously by prosecutors, and a sex crime conviction can ruin a person’s life for years, even decades, to come.
That’s why it is so important to understand as much as you can about the sex crime investigation process. While sexual assault has been a topic of national conversation in recent months, it is only one type of sex crime. There are different types of sex crimes, each with varying severity.
In the most common scenario, once a sex crime is reported to the police, an investigation begins. This can be a long or short process depending on the amount of evidence, the cooperation of the victim, the suspect, and any potential witnesses. The length of time between when the incident happened and when the incident was reported is also a very important factor.
On many occasions we have met with clients and started our own investigation prior to charges being filed. This can be very tricky, but also extremely helpful.
Below are the first three large steps in the investigation process:
- The initial complaint: When law enforcement is contacted they generally look into (investigate) sex crimes more diligently than many other types of crimes. Many times a person accused of a sex crime will have no idea that a complaint was even made.
- Investigation: Law enforcement begins to interview witnesses and take statements. This is generally the time that an accused person would find out about the allegations. Other evidence (physical or otherwise) is usually gathered at this time as well. Most officers will try and get the suspect’s side of the story, which is a perfect time to exercise your right to remain silent.
- Once law enforcement believes enough evidence has been gathered, they will forward their report to the local district attorneys office for consideration of prosecution. If the prosecution decides to press charges, they will take the case through the legal process to obtain an arrest warrant.
While sex crime laws vary greatly from state to state, one thing does not: the accused is always innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, the court of public opinion is rarely so forgiving. That is why it is important for anyone accused of a sex crime, whether they are misdemeanors or felonies, to use all of the legal resources available to them. Criminal defense lawyers can ensure the alleged suspect’s rights are respected by the police, the media, and the court system.
Some sex crime investigations happen differently. The most common examples are prostitution and commercial sex solicitation. These investigations are largely initiated by police during sting operations. These are happening more and more frequently in the Portland and Wilsonville areas.
If you have been charged with commercial sex solicitation or any other types of crime, then do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney for legal assistance.