If you have been accused of a sexual offense, it is vital that you understand the potential complications and consequences of these charges. Once an alleged victim files a police report relating to a sexual offense, police will follow up to investigate the claim. The officer assigned to the case will collect any available evidence and provide a report to the prosecuting attorney. It is up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not criminal charges will be filed. A prosecutor has six months to prosecute minor misdemeanors, two years to prosecute misdemeanors, and six years to prosecute felony sex crimes (longer in certain circumstances)
Kinds of Evidence That Prosecutors May Use in an Ohio Sexual Assault Case
Once you have been arrested or even brought in for questioning, you should not say anything to authorities without an experienced sexual assault defense attorney by your side to protect your rights.
It’s worth noting that many alleged victims may want to “drop the charges” against a named offender. Unfortunately, an alleged victim has very little control over whether the prosecution will file charges after a police report has been made. While the cooperation of an alleged victim could impact the prosecutor’s decision to charge you, prosecutors will generally pursue charges if they believe there is sufficient evidence to get a conviction.
Some of the most common types of evidence in sexual offense cases include:
- Testimony. Most sexual offense cases depend on the strength of the testimony of the alleged victim. Prosecutors may also collect witness statements to confirm the alleged victim’s claims. In some cases, the testimony of alleged victims alone could provide proof of a sexual offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
- DNA evidence. Police may collect biological evidence from you, such as samples of your blood, urine, saliva, or semen. Under Ohio laws, the state can prosecute any person who has a matching DNA record connected with the criminal investigation of an alleged rape or sexual battery offense up to 25 years after the alleged offense is committed.
- Medical records. Some defendants admit to having committed the acts in question, but assert that the sexual activity was consensual. An alleged victim could produce photographs of bruises, bite marks, bleeding, or expert medical testimony as proof that consent was not given.
- Proof of identification. Police may gather forensic evidence from the scene or the alleged victim’s person, such as fingerprints, hair follicles, or clothing fibers. These may be used to confirm and support other evidence, but may or may not be enough to convict an alleged victim on their own. For example, if the alleged victim and offender lived together or were friends, hair follicles may be considered virtually inconsequential as hair would be present in the residence with or without sexual conduct.
Defending Yourself Against Charges of Sexual Misconduct
There are limits to the evidence an Ohio criminal defense attorney may use to refute sexual assault allegations. For example, defense lawyers are not allowed to use an alleged victim’s sexual history or alleged promiscuity to challenge the credibility of a sexual assault claim. However, there are many other defenses available to show that the alleged offender is not guilty of a sex crime, such as.
- Inadmissible evidence. Prosecutors prefer to have as much evidence as possible before pursuing criminal charges. If the police did not follow proper procedures when collecting physical evidence, it may be inadmissible in court, depriving the prosecutor of key portions of their case.
- Consensual acts. Even if there is physical evidence linking you to the alleged victim, it does not necessarily mean that sexual conduct was not consensual. Your attorney may be able to gather evidence showing that both parties were willingly engaged in sex acts.
- Conflicting testimony. Your attorney may gather statements from character witnesses, witnesses at the scene of the alleged offense, or statements from authorities that contradict the alleged victim’s version of events.
Are you or someone you know facing criminal charges?
If you are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams is recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, and is one of U.S. News' Best Law Firms. Please contact us online or call our Cincinnati office directly at 513-929-9333 to schedule your free consultation.