Being accused of a sexual assault can be a life-disrupting event. Being charged with sexual assault even more so. Your reputation, your job, even your freedom may be on the line. If you feel confused at this worrying time, that’s understandable. Here are some things to be aware of, and events you can expect to occur in the short term.
A Report Is Not A Charge
A report is not a charge. This is the most important thing to keep in mind. You may have been named in a report, but a report does not automatically lead to a charge. In Ottawa, about 24% of reported sexual assault incidents lead to a charge.
After a report, the police will start an investigation into the allegations. Remember, the police are investigating the accusation, not the person who made the report (the complainant). The police will interview the complainant and others who may corroborate their account. There may be weeks of delay (or longer).
If they feel the claim has merit, police will ask for your side. The police could interview you, potentially many times. It is vital to understand how to handle the interview. It could be the most important decision of your life.
The police will use the information gathered in court if there is a charge. Make sure you have spoken to a lawyer before the police interview.
Laying A Charge
After the investigation, the police will determine whether to lay charges or not. If they decide to lay charges, they will arrest you. It’s possible they could bring you in front of a judge awaiting a bail hearing. At the hearing, a judge will decide whether you will keep your freedom until the trial is over, if you can make bail.
If police have contacted you and want you to “turn yourself in” or “obtain legal advice” in relation to a sexual assault investigation, it is imperative that you receive guidance. Armoured Suits offers a suite of services intended to prepare you for the police interview, bail, and the criminal process.