Filing a Criminal Complaint
It may seem intimidating or even frightening to consider filing a criminal complaint. If this is the case, there are people such as Rape Response volunteers and the Victim-Witness Assistance Coordinator who can support you through the process of a police interview, the subsequent investigation, and possible prosecution. Reporting to the police begins the legal process should you choose to prosecute at a later date.
Police First ResponseGenerally, there are two circumstances under which a police officer would come to speak with you about an assault:
InvestigationIf an officer is called to the scene of the incident, that person must protect the crime scene, determine the type and circumstances of the crime committed, as well as identify potential suspects and witnesses. After a preliminary survey of the crime scene, the responding officer will call in an investigator. In some cases of acquaintance assault there will be no "crime scene" per se, but there will be an investigation. At the University of North Alabama, you may request a plain clothes officer if you wish, so the situation will be handled more discreetly.
If the investigator is called to a crime scene, upon his or her arrival, the investigator takes charge of the scene and is briefed about the incident by the responding officer. The investigator will then interview the survivor and other witnesses, asking very specific questions about the crime. The investigator will then collect evidence, and document the crime scene if need be.
After the investigator conducts interviews and gathers evidence he or she then writes up a report that is then given to the District Attorney's office. Physical evidence is sent to an Alabama State Laboratory for analysis. Your case is assigned a case number, which you may want to note. You may request a copy of the police report for your own files. If you see any errors, or you remember any further information that will aid the police or District Attorney, by all means inform the investigator. It's not unusual for survivors to remember more detail as time passes. Once the investigation is complete, it is sent on the District Attorney to consider for prosecution.