Dayton Ohio Sex Crime Investigations
Sex crimes are taken very seriously in Ohio. The laws in the state are designed to protect people of any gender from unwanted sexual contact. Critically, these laws can unleash severe punishments to those who cross the line from acceptable to illegal behavior. But what is that line? And what are the punishments, you might be asking. You’ll need to get up to speed about Ohio’s laws on sex crime investigations, including how the police’s seemingly inconceivable actions could result in criminal charges against you that may derail your life. Just as importantly, you’ll need to know about how a criminal defense attorney can come into the equation and meaningfully defend you. Here’s more on the investigations of sex crimes in Ohio, and what a lawyer can do for you if you are facing accusations or charges.
Dayton Sex Crime Defense Lawyer
Experienced criminal defense lawyers at Joslyn Law Firm focus on defending people in Ohio who are facing sex crime accusations and criminal charges. We’ll discuss your legal options and the defenses that are available, and get to work defending you. In many ways a sex offense is one of the worst types of offenses to have on your record. But there are opportunities for us to fight these charges, and we’ll explain how that works based on your unique situation. We are here for you. For a free case evaluation with one of the knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers at Joslyn Law Firm, call (937) 356-3969 or contact us online.
Overview Of Ohio Sex Crimes Investigations
- The Process – After A Sex Crime Report
- Investigation Of A Sex Crime Report
- The Rape Kit And Physical Evidence Of A Sex Crime
- Asking Questions In A Sex Crime Investigation
- Fourth And Fifth Amendment Rights
- Indictment And Arrest
- Potential Charges In A Sex Crime Case
- Defenses To Sex Crime Charges
- Ohio Sex Crime Lawyer
A sex crime investigation begins after someone files a police report that alleges criminal sexual activity. The investigation that the law enforcement officers go through after the initial report may lead to evidence that supports the allegations. Officers will ask detailed questions of the alleged victim to corroborate and understand the events of the incident at issue. They may seek search warrants from a judge to authorize them to gather physical evidence from a scene, including things from the home or car of the accused in the case. If the evidence that the police gather supports the finding that a sex crime may have occurred, the police then refer the case to the local prosecutor for legal action. Depending on the facts and circumstances, the prosecutor may decide to file felony charges, misdemeanor sex crimes charges, or no charges at all.
The police understand that a sex crime case must be more than an accuser’s version of the events of an incident. To get a conviction in court, the police know that they have to gather additional evidence to corroborate, or support, the accuser’s statements about what happened. Since the job of the police is to help to “build a case” that will support legal charges in court, they have been known to be overzealous in how they gather evidence, in what they choose to focus on, and what they pass over. If a case is brought against you, an experienced criminal defense attorney will represent your interests.
At the time that the victim of a sexual assault goes to a doctor or hospital for treatment and care after an alleged assault, the medical professionals will usually use a specially designed evidence-gathering set of tools called a rape kit to conduct a forensic medical examination. The contents of the rape kit include items to help the doctors and nurses gather samples of physical evidence and preserve the evidence for later use by prosecutors in a sex crime case.
The proper use of a rape kit is an invasive process that will take a few hours. The alleged victim of the sex crime must submit to photographs, detailed bodily examinations, swabs and other laboratory samples being taken, and many questions about the incident. If the alleged victim first went to the police to report the event, the officers will likely take the individual to a hospital for the examination. If the person went directly to a medical professional after the event, then the professionals there will perform the rape kit analysis during that visit, after treating any injuries that may have been involved in the event. Submitting to a rape kit examination does not always indicate that the person will file a criminal report, as the two are separate processes that often overlap, but they do not have to do so.
Police and other authorities will have a lot of questions throughout the process of a sex crimes investigation. Beyond the initial report of a crime, they will interview the victim thoroughly to understand the events in detail. Officers will also contact the alleged assailant and will want to ask questions about the incident. Even before any charges are filed or a sex crimes investigation is complete, every person who is being investigated has a right to consult with a criminal defense lawyer before talking to the police.
The authors of the U.S. Constitution understood that it is important to have legal rights and protections that apply to every person in society. Thus, government authorities need to be prevented from taking on dangerous excessive power that would intrude into everyday lives. The first Ten Amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Each one has a short paragraph that describes rights in which the people are protected from government agents abusing their power.
So, police officers who are investigating sex crimes understand that there are rules and legal principles that they must follow in gathering evidence. They know that if they overstep the limits, and gather evidence illegally, a skillful defense attorney will be able to explain to the judge at trial that evidence that is gathered wrongfully shouldn’t be permitted to come into court as evidence against the defendant.
No Unreasonable Search And Seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that all citizens are to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects [all other things you own], against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This means, simply, that police officers or other law enforcement agents are not allowed to look through your things, search your car, or take items away, even if you’ve been accused of committing a crime. The Constitution goes on to say that searches and seizures of evidence are allowed if the government agent has probable cause and a search warrant. So, the police understand the process that is required to legally search someone’s home, car, or belongings: they need to have a very good reason that is supported by a very strong suspicion that there will be evidence that is relevant to an investigation.
The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution says that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”. What this means is that the government, the police, or the prosecutor’s office can’t force you to admit to a crime, or to get you to say anything about the incident at all, if it might help them to gather evidence to convict you of the charges. As the familiar saying goes, “anything that you say can and will be used against you,” and this is true, usually. If you voluntarily agree to answer questions or give a statement, then you may provide pieces of evidence, even without realizing it, that a skillful prosecutor can use to help to stitch together all the elements of a criminal case. A good criminal defense attorney will usually advise you to avoid speaking to the police about the case.
When the police have investigated and gathered evidence that they believe adds up to the elements of a crime, they can refer the case to the local prosecutor’s office to consider possible criminal charges. Since rape is a felony, and many other sex crimes are also, a prosecutor is required to present the case to a grand jury for an indictment. A grand jury is a group of citizens who are brought together by the government like in a jury trial, but they hear just the prosecutor’s side of the case and then determine whether there is enough evidence to bring formal legal charges, called an indictment, against the accused individual.
If you are indicted, the next step is often arrest. A court will issue an arrest warrant, and police officers will take you into custody for booking and arraignment on the charges. You will be given a chance to have a defense attorney appointed for you if you haven’t already gotten legal representation.
Beyond the charge of rape, which is a first-degree felony in Dayton, the prosecutor can use a few different laws as the basis for a sex crimes prosecution. A defendant could be charged with assault, battery, sexual imposition, sexual assault, gross indecency, or other crimes. Some charges might include a number of crimes as “lesser-included offenses” with the main charge. At trial, a defendant might be guilty of the principal charge, or not guilty of the main charge but guilty of one or more lesser offenses.
Not every sex crime prosecution will lead to a conviction. An accused individual has defenses that can come into play that might change the balance of the outcome. Here are just a couple examples.
Sexual contact is not against the law, of course. But sexual contact that is not welcomed by one party can be a crime. If you are facing a sex crime investigation, it is important then to consult with a defense attorney who can review the facts of the incident in detail. They can help you to understand the complexities of the case and what you can offer that may help to change to outcome of the case.
Statute of Limitations
Many sex crimes have lengthy statutes of limitations, the law explaining how long a prosecutor has to bring a criminal case after the date of the alleged sex crime. Rape, for example, has a 25-year statute of limitations, so that an event that happened in your first year of college could potentially come back to you as a sex crime investigation and potential charges decades later, as you are raising your family and building your reputation in the community. Recent laws have extended the time limits further in some cases. When the 25-year period has passed and DNA evidence is discovered that matches the DNA held as evidence in a sex crimes investigation, prosecutors have five years from then to file charges.
Punishment For A Sex Crime Conviction
Punishments for a conviction of a Dayton, Ohio sex crime can be harsh. Felony sex crimes can lead to prison terms of six to 12 months in prison on a fifth-degree felony up to five years in prison or more on a first-degree felony. Sex crimes that are prosecuted as misdemeanors can lead to jail time, from 30 days up to 180 days depending on the level of the crime. There may also be financial fines in amounts from a few hundred dollars up to $20,000, as well as court fees. Probation is likely, after time in detention is served, and courts can order counseling or education as part of a sentence as well. Most sex crimes convictions include a requirement to register as a sex offender thereafter, with all the implications of that status in your life.
Beyond the terms of the sentence following a sex crimes conviction, there are impacts that you will feel throughout your life, including potential loss of gun ownership rights, loss of voting rights during time of incarceration, loss of child custody rights or the ability to adopt or foster children in the future, as well as challenges in finding employment and housing as a former felon and registered sex offender. A qualified criminal defense attorney is your best investment in trying to get the most positive outcome from a very challenging situation if you are facing a sex crime investigation.
Will it help if I give a statement that explains my side of the story?
Truthfully, any statement you make or anything you say to the police about your case can be used against you in some way in a criminal case. An experienced defense attorney will help you to understand when it may be time to tell your version of events, and when it is time to say nothing.
I’m facing a sex crime investigation that is based on a misunderstanding – how can I clear it up?
When a police report has been filed and an investigation started, the police have the job of assessing all the evidence and trying to build a case to support charges, if the facts support it. Usually, trying to talk to the police to “explain” or to “resolve” the dispute won’t be helpful. A capable defense attorney is the best choice of someone to talk to about your concerns. Your lawyer is the only person that you should talk to about the case once an investigation is ongoing.
Will I be going to prison because of a sex crimes investigation?
A prison term is a real possibility for someone convicted of a sex crime. The most serious sex crime, rape, is a felony and a conviction will result in a prison sentence that will probably range from five years up to life imprisonment. Other sex crimes can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors, but a conviction of any one of the possible sex crime charges will be certain to have life changing effects. Even probation and the terms and conditions that you will be subject to, in addition to potentially having to register as a sex offender following a conviction or guilty plea, will be likely to impact you for many years, if not the rest of your life. If you are facing a sex crime investigation, an experienced defense attorney should be your first call.
The State Attorney General’s Office relies on its Bureau of Criminal Investigation, or BCI, service for assistance with the AG’s criminal investigative work, crime scene evaluations, and laboratory services for processing information from a scene.
Suspected of a sex crime? Regardless of whether you did anything wrong, you should try to make the most of your constitutional rights by saying nothing to the police other than to ask for your attorney. Let your Dayton Ohio criminal defense attorney advise you on your situation – don’t try to take care of this issue without help. Your lawyer can provide you invaluable guidance on your rights and defenses and can help you to understand the best way to proceed.
Joslyn Law Firm has a reputation for being one of the best criminal defense law firms in Dayton Ohio. We represent those who are facing criminal charges including misdemeanor and felony sex offenses. You need a fierce, powerful defense to allegations of this nature especially considering the impact it could have on your life if you get convicted. So, if you think the police are investigating you, or if you have been arrested for a crime, then we can help. To learn more, touch base with the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Joslyn Law Firm by calling (937) 356-3969 or by contacting us online.