Typical areas covered during police questioning
Information necessary for identifying and apprehending the suspect should be taken immediately by the police officer.
- Description of the offender.
- Your prior activities, including past recent consensual sexual intercourse.
- Your relationship to the suspect.
- Issue of consent.
- Exact words of the suspect. If you do not remember exact words you should make sure that what you remember is labeled approximate wording.
- Time span. It is a good idea to give approximate time span for both the whole incident and the sex acts. Often in times of crisis, time seems much longer than it really is.
- Sex acts that took place. The officer should ask if any other sex crimes took place. If not asked make sure to let the officer know of any other sex acts besides rape, that occurred.
- Clothing worn by the survivor. The police will want to keep the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault.
- Visible injuries. The physicians assistant (PA) should note these on the medical report but the police officer should also note them. The officer may want photos taken. They are important collaborating evidence of force and lack of consent. Tell the PA or police officer of any bruises or scratches you have.
You should be called by a sexual assault investigator a day to a week after the initial report. You may be asked to come into the police department for further questioning or the police may come out to your home. This is usually done to clear up any discrepancies that may have been in the original report or to see if you have remembered any other information. You also may be asked to look at mug shots or attend a line-up to help identify the suspect. You have the right to a rape crisis advocate at all legal proceedings.
Important advice for answering questions
Be truthful even if you were engaging in illegal activity before, during and/or the assault i.e. using drugs, prostitution, etc. One exposed distortion or lie could cast doubt on the rest of your story. The police officer taking your rape report is only interested in investigating the crime of sexual assault.
- Be careful not to give definite answers to questions if you are not really sure of the answer. “I don’t know” or estimates on time, size etc. are appropriate.
- You have the right to read over everything on the police report and ask the officer to correct any misinformation.
- You have the right to ask for confidentiality. This means that your name and address will be kept out of public record.
- You have the right to an advocate and one support person through all medical and legal exams and questioning. However, if the support person is disruptive to the process they can be asked to leave.
Disposition of police reports
When the investigation is completed one of three things will happen.
- The police will take the case to the district attorney for charging. The DA will either charge the case, send the case back for more investigation, or decline to charge the suspect.
- The police may drop all charges against a rape suspect. The usual reasons given for doing this are insufficient evidence, lack of survivor cooperation or withdrawal of complaint by the survivor.
- When the suspect cannot be identified or found the case may be suspended or filed until further evidence is available.