It’s a good question because not just the general police are typically going to 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’s where a lot of things get messed up on the police’s end when they don’t have the usual trained professionals that know what to look for and know 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 who are specifically tasked 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 a lot of sex crime cases, there’s more than meets the eye, so even the detectives in Los Angeles County, for example, don’t really have the resources or the know how to deal with it. They have to go to the prosecutors and talk to them about it and 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 and they’ll tell the detectives what they want them to do.
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, there’s a whole cadre of authorities that investigate 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 type of sophistication involved related to 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. There are all sorts of different things that 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. A lot of times they’ll do what’s called a pretext phone call. The detectives will use the actual alleged victim to help investigate the case. So, there’s a number of 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, depending on the circumstances of the case – the charges and the nature of the charges. 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 say to 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 powerful 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 test to see if there are any type of injuries that 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 really 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. A lot of times, they’re going to go to whoever they believe possesses that evidence, and as far as who is going to investigate the particular sex-related offense, it’s going to be jurisdictionally and it’s going to go with whoever is the most qualified.
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