With the rise of the #MeToo movement, more and more victims are coming forward to report their allegations of sexual assault. Laws pertaining to statute of limitations and allegations differ from state to state, therefore it’s important to be aware of the time constraint that may be applicable in your state. We take a closer look at Californian Law, and go step by step through the process of what to expect when investigating a sexual assault allegation.
How Does A Sexual Assault Allegation Work In California?
First things first, when embarking on filling an allegation of sexual assault, it’s very important that you have the support you need to deal with the physical and emotional weight of what has happened to you. Our sexual assault lawyers are experienced in handling these types of cases and offer a level of professionalism and support to all victims.
As a victim of a crime, you have a number of rights. It’s important to understand what rights you have in relation to the criminal justice process, as well as at the trial process. DNA evidence is very important in sexual assault cases, and because of the nature of the case being invasive, it can result in dealing with some difficult questions. After the initial report has been made to law enforcement, the victim can decide whether or not they want to move forward with the investigation, in the form of pressing charges. This comes down to evidence available as well as the decision of the state.
What About The Statute Of Limitations?
Following the multiple cases against Bill Cosby, California changed its laws regarding rape and other sexual assault charges, thereby eliminating its statute of limitations. This move allows victims to come forward when they are ready, and have the opportunity to seek justice against the alleged perpetrator. The move means that the alleged perpetrator will not be able to evade legal consequences because of an expired time frame.
What Happens When It Goes To Trial?
The criminal justice system involves a number of aspects, such as the investigation of the possible crime, to determining the guilt or innocence of the alleged perpetrator. While this process may seem daunting at times, it can help to understand how it works, to make it seem less overwhelming, and why it’s the right thing to do. According to the law determined by the state, in California, a criminal complaint may be filled within one year of the date on which the identity of the suspect is conclusively established through DNA testing. There are stipulations about this compliant being filed, determined by when it occurred.
When a case against an alleged perpetrator goes to trial, this occurs in criminal court, where the victim is often called to testify. This will result in answering a lawyer’s questions under oath in front of a judge and/or jury. In your role as a witness, you will be required to answer questions from the defense attorney (the lawyer representing the alleged perpetrator) as well as the prosecuting attorney, who represents the state in the case against the alleged perpetrator, also known as the defendant, and is responsible for arguing why the court should convict the alleged perpetrator.
What Happens After The Trial?
The end of the trial may come with a sense of relief, but it’s not guaranteed that it will offer the justice or closure you may have sought. While your testimony may have been part of building a case against the perpetrator, it’s one of many aspects of the case that needs to be taken into consideration by the court. After testimonies from the witnesses and attorneys, there will be a time and date announced for the sentence hearing. This can occur days, weeks or months after the trial. As a victim, it’s not mandatory to attend. It’s important to remember that if the alleged perpetrator is acquitted, this does not mean that your story was not believed or disregarded, but rather it means that there was not enough evidence to prove what happened beyond a reasonable doubt.
For more information about what to do if you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, or how you can fight for justice, don’t hesitate to call us today at (800) 285-1763.