When a sex crime in Fresno takes place, law enforcement should conduct a thorough investigation. The purpose of a sex crime investigation is to separate fact from fiction, and this requires gathering as much information as possible. While a sex crime investigation may seem justified and without bias, it commonly involves police taking advantage of those being interviewed. Certain tactics, such as asking leading questions, can result in an innocent person becoming a suspect and being charged with a crime or a victim identifying the wrong person as the perpetrator. Contact Fresno sex crimes attorney Michael McKneely at (559) 443-7442 to see how he can protect your rights during a sex crime investigation.
The Investigation Process
Sex crimes investigations differ. Some are very rudimentary, conducted by patrol officers and assisted later by detectives. Others can involve a large multi-disciplinary team, with law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, and sexual assault nurse examiners, as well as others. Overall, the investigation typically involves interviewing victims, witnesses, and suspects, gathering evidence, and conducting medical examinations.
A thorough sex crime investigation will include the following:
- Gathering Initial Information – Collecting information related to the type and extent of the criminal act, the individuals involved in the crime (assailant, victim, bystanders, etc.), the location of the victim and suspect, and a description of the crime scene.
- Medical Examination – A medical exam should be given to each victim involved in the crime, including collecting a urine sample and administering a rape kit.
- Collecting All Evidence – All evidence related to the crime should be collected, documented, and preserved. Common pieces of evidence are photos, videos, clothing, sex crime kit results, urine samples, bodily fluids, and dispatch tapes from first responders.
- Interviewing the Victim – The victim should be interviewed by law enforcement authorities.
- Identifying the Suspect – Law enforcement attempts to identify and arrest a suspect, if warranted.
- Interview the Suspect – Police try to question the suspect to determine if they are aware of what happened and what part they may have played in the crime, if any.
Once the initial investigation has been concluded, police will generally document their activities in reports. Law enforcement standards suggest that these reports should not contain the personal opinions of the investigative team, only facts that have been gathered. They often do contain opinions, however, but this can sometimes be useful to the defense. An emphasis is placed on the goal of prosecuting the suspect and getting a conviction.
Know Your Rights as a Suspect in Fresno
Whatever police might tell you at a crime scene, you always have the privilege of invoking your Miranda rights. This means that you have the option of saying nothing, which can help you avoid saying something that can be used against you.
If you are arrested the police have to inform you of your Miranda rights before any statement they take from you can be used in court. Be aware, though, that they may avoid reading you your rights in an effort to get an incriminating statement from you. If they do get you to say something damaging, they may then read you your rights and ask you to answer the same questions again so that they can use the statement in court.
Your Miranda rights include: :
- You have the right to speak to a lawyer before being questioned
- You have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning
- If you cannot afford a lawyer you will be given one at no cost to you
- If you decide to speak with police, you can stop the interview at any time
Knowing these rights is essential to protecting your freedom. Rather than speaking with police when they start asking you questions, you should simply say “I want a lawyer.” A skilled criminal defense attorney in Fresno can advise you on what you should and should not say so that you stay out of custody.
Police Misconduct and Inadmissible Evidence
In order to enter your home and gather evidence without your permission, a police officer must have a warrant or the suspicion that someone is in immediate physical danger. If law enforcement enters your home illegally, evidence they locate may be inadmissible in court due to the fact that it was obtained illegally.
Illegally obtained testimony is also generally inadmissible in court. Statements have been ruled inadmissible where the police violated a person’s rights by extreme questioning techniques. If you believe that your rights have been violated by the illegal seizure of evidence or extreme interrogation, get the help of a skilled attorney.
Let a Fresno Sex Investigations Defense Lawyer Defend Your Freedom
With the help of a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer in Fresno, many strategies may be available to prove your innocence. A common defense is establishing that you reasonably believed the other person consented to sex. Sometimes there is evidence that the person is making false accusations. It could also be the case that no intercourse took place and that the sexual activity only included foreplay or basic physical contact. In these scenarios, the charges may be reduced to crimes that carry less severe consequences. To speak with a criminal defense attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today call (559) 443-7442.