To Report or Not to Report?
As a victim of a crime, Sexual Assault, you will have questions. What should you do?
Generally speaking, a sexual assault victim has three choices:
–Report the crime to the police with the intent
of prosecuting the offender.
–Report the crime anonymously through a third
party or confidential report.
–Not to report the crime to the police.
Only the sexual assault victim can make this decision.
It may be difficult to make complex decisions immediately after the assault. Talking with someone who can give immediate support and
information, such as a sexual assault crisis counselor, a victim/witness advocate, a family member or friend, may help you make a decision, but ultimately you are the only person who can make the decision.
Reporting With Intent to Prosecute
When a victim decides to report the crime to the local law enforcement agency and to prosecute (press charges), she or he needs to be aware of the steps involved:
— Initial law enforcement officer’s interview
— Medical examination
— Investigator’s interview
— Prosecutor’s interview
— Court procedures
This may all seem overwhelming. An understanding of the benefits of reporting encourages many victims to choose to prosecute, resulting in the convictions of more defendants. Victim/witness advocates, sexual assault victim advocates, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, or crisis counselors in your community can provide the information you need.
NOTE: In order to qualify for crime victims’
compensation, you must report the crime and
be willing to prosecute.
Third-Party Reporting/Confidential Reporting
A victim may wish to report a sexual assault and identify or describe the suspect but not prosecute. This can help law enforcement officers to determine patterns of sexual crimes in the community, or to determine if one sexual offender is committing multiple crimes. Sexual assault crisis centers can assist you in making a third-party anonymous report to law enforcement authorities. Seek both medical attention and a supportive, knowledgeable person to help you through the emotional aftermath of the incident. You are the main witness and without you, the prosecution of the sexual offender is nearly impossible. Please consider the option to prosecute carefully.
Not all sexual assault victims want to report this crime to a law enforcement agency. This is an individual decision. Without an official report, however, the law enforcement agency will not know that a sexual assault has occurred. Law enforcement agencies can only help the community when they are aware of crimes being committed. If the assailant was a stranger, the prospect of identifying the suspect greatly decreases over time, and crucial physical evidence will be lost as well. Even if you choose not to report, it is important for your own well being that you receive medical attention immediately after the assault. You and/or your health insurance carrier will be
responsible for all fees if you are not going to the hospital for the purpose of evidence collection (Code of Virginia §19.2-165.1)
NOTE: You may go to the hospital and have a forensic exam, have evidence collected within 72 hours of assault, and you have 364 days to decide if you would like to prosecute.
Official information from the DCJS http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov