It's a good question because not just the general police typically investigate a sex crime case. If a sex crime case falls in their lap – they're driving in their police vehicle and all of a sudden they get called out to a sex crime case, then obviously they have to do whatever investigation they can.
But, I see that many things get messed up on the police's end when they don't have the usually trained professionals who know what to look for and what type of evidence to preserve and go after in a sex crime case. A lot of times, they miss things, or they misconstrue things.
So, the people who investigate these sex crime cases are typically detectives tasked explicitly with investigating sex crime cases. They've got experience. They have special training. They've got access to prosecutors that can help them investigate sex crime cases.
In many sex crime cases, there's more than meets the eye, so even the detectives in Los Angeles County, for example, don't have the resources or the know-how to deal with it.
They have to go to the prosecutors and talk to them about it. There are special sex crime prosecutors that are not only involved with the prosecution of sex crime cases in Los Angeles and across the country but they are also involved in the investigative phase. They'll tell the detectives what they want them to do.
Local Law Enforcement and the FBI
Also, it's not just local law enforcement who investigates sex crimes. The FBI will investigate sex crimes and other branches of the federal government depending on what happens and who is involved. So, a whole cadre of authorities investigates sex crimes across the country – Los Angeles, California.
A lot of it is done jurisdictionally but bet your bottom dollar that most of the time if there's any sophistication involved in a sex crime, they're going to have the top-level prosecutors and top-level law enforcement officers investigating the case. They're not just going to use the regular police.
The powers that be are going to use special sex-crime detectives. They're going to get the prosecutors involved in cases. Different things can be done in sex crime offenses.
They'll also use experts to investigate. In other words, they'll have people who can check for DNA and check for semen. Often, they'll do what's called a pretext phone call. The detectives will use the alleged victim to help investigate the case.
So, there are several different tools, but when I get a case, and somebody is asking me about the investigation and what the prosecution is going to likely do – because I get a lot of them pre-filing before any charges are filed in the case – I can give the client a list of things that they will likely do to investigate.
It depends on the circumstances of the case – the charges and the nature of the costs. They don't just do the same thing every time.
So, if a client tells me it's a, he said/she said situation, I can tell them, they're probably going to do what's called a pretext phone call where the alleged victim calls you and then starts asking you questions, such as, why did you do this, what about this, and then the detectives will tape record and listen to it on the other end.
That's robust evidence, I think, both ways. Sometimes the defendant says, I don't know what you're talking about. Other times, they apologize, and obviously, that's a tacit admission of guilt.
So, there are all sorts of things they can do. They get experts involved. They test for various fluids. They'll also try to see if any injuries are what you would usually expect if someone was a victim of a sex crime.
They're going to talk to witnesses who may have seen or heard things related to whatever happened, so it just depends on what type of a case it is, what happened in the case – the facts and circumstances surrounding the case – and what evidence they have and whatever evidence they still think they can get.
Often, they're going to go to whoever they believe possesses that evidence. As far as who is going to investigate the particular sex-related offense, it will be jurisdictionally, and it will go with whoever is the most qualified.