If you are being investigated or under suspicion for sexual assault (or any other criminal charge) – read this blog. This article will examine a sexual assault investigation and how you, the suspect can protect your rights and freedoms.
“The Ontario Provincial Police alone plan to pore over approximately 4,000 sexual assault reports that officers deemed unfounded between 2010 – 2014.” Nearly every police force in Canada are reviewing their old investigations because of a Globe and Mail article.
I have practised criminal law for almost 40 years and have defended dozens and dozens of sexual assaults. After I complete a successful defence, the same thought always crosses my mind. The case is frequently won or lost before the client steps into my office.
The desired result in every criminal trial is an acquittal which requires the successful cross-examination of the complainant, which if done properly should not require the defence to call his client to testify. This is the aim of every cross-examination. In sexual assault cases, however, especially those involving young children, although the law does not require it, the judge expects to hear the accused’s version of the incidents, which requires he or she to testify before the court.
The greatest obstacle to the successful testimony of the accused is the police interview of this individual. Your case can become a very tough uphill battle if an unorganized or unprepared suspect goes into the police interrogation without proper legal advice.
The police know there is little or no chance of an innocent person admitting he has committed the sexual assault. The police research their suspect and ask a wide ranging set of questions that they know most of the answers to before the interrogation starts. You will have no idea what the questions will be or where their investigation is proceeding. For example, the police might ask you where you were on March break of 1997 Before looking at your calendar or your records, you answer I was in Florida. I go there every year with my wife, she was with me the whole time. The problem is that your wife did go to Florida but you stayed home, because your work would not permit you to go. Later you find out through your lawyer that the sexual assault occurred in March, 1997. The police now have you in your “first lie” on a pivotal issue and your credibility and maybe your wife’s is partially destroyed, with hundreds more questions coming after your first error.
You are no match for a trained police investigator. If you suspect or there is any possibility that you could be investigated for sexual assault or any other charge, no matter how innocent you are, call a criminal lawyer immediately. If he or she offers you some simple advice, in the form of exercise your right to remain silent or don’t say anything to the police, demand an interview in his or her office or call an experienced criminal lawyer immediately.
Proper, extensive criminal legal advice will greatly enhance your chances of avoiding being charged or being found not guilty. Police officers have in some cases given me the best part of a year to obtain the necessary evidence to show them there is no prospect of conviction which can avoid public disclosure of what ultimately may be a false claim. You need to understand the police interview process and how they are trained to start you talking and while you think you are exonerating yourself, they are building a case out of your own words. The investigator’s dream is the suspect who thinks he can talk his way out of an investigation. Sexual assault convictions almost always result in a jail sentence and a registration on the Sexual Assault Registry with lengthy or lifetime reporting requirements.