After a sexual assault, you have multiple options to seek help. You can contact a local sexual assault resource center to speak to a counselor or trained advocate. You can go to the hospital and receive a forensic medical exam and treatment for any immediate injuries. You can also contact law enforcement and file a report.
Obtaining a copy of your police report may seem like a complex process, but it is usually simple. Most police departments have an internal process in place to retrieve portions of the report in preparation for a future criminal or civil case.
What Is a Police Report?
After you call 911, a police officer will respond to the scene of the assault and document key pieces of information. He or she may ask for your name and a description of how the assault occurred. The officer will write down important information about the incident, such as the date and time of the assault, witness details, and evidence at the scene. He or she will then compile this information into a report and file it with the police department.
How to Obtain Your Police Report
After you file your report, you can contact the main office of the responding police department to retrieve a copy. The report will likely be available within a few days of the assault. You can find out how to obtain the report by visiting the police department’s website or calling the department’s appropriate phone number.
For example, if you file a report with the San Diego Police Department, you will need to file a request in person or through the mail. You will need to pay a $12 fee and supply key information, such as who was involved, the date and location, and the report and incident letter.
It is important to note that you may not be able to view the entire report. The police may redact or withhold certain pieces of information to protect the identity of witnesses, mandatory reporters, informants, and other parties.
Legal Options for Sexual Assault Survivors
If you are the victim of a sexual assault, you can hold the perpetrator accountable through criminal and civil processes. A criminal case results in criminal penalties, such as jail time, fines, and restitution. A civil lawsuit, on the other hand, aims to recover compensation for the losses you suffered due to the assault, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In both of these processes, the police report will serve as an important and foundational piece of evidence.
To establish the defendant’s guilt in a sexual assault case, you will likely need to establish his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be a difficult process and requires the presence of strong pieces of evidence, such as DNA samples and witness testimony. To prove a civil case, on the other hand, you will need to establish that you suffered harm due to the perpetrator’s actions and are eligible for certain types of financial compensation.
You can pursue a criminal and a civil case against the same perpetrator for the same act of sexual violence. To learn more about your rights and legal options, contact a sexual assault attorney as soon as possible following the assault. Your sexual assault attorney will evaluate your case and explain your optimal path to justice.