No Time Limit for Reporting
There is no time limit for you to go to the police and report a sexual assault. You can report a sexual assault months or years after the incident, however the sooner it is made the greater the chances the police will find and preserve evidence linking the accused to the crime.
If you decide not to report the sexual assault immediately, you may want to write down what you remember about the sexual assault in as much detail as possible. You will be able to refer to this information if you decide to make a report some time in the future.
The Legal Process
- If you decide to make a police report, the information below may help to anticipate what will be required. A Victim Service Worker can also help with making this decision and support you through the process. Making a police statement involves the police conducting an audio-visual statement at the police station, and may also require a written statement in your own words.
- Deciding to involve the police is an important decision which should be considered carefully. Here are some things to help you with this decision-making process:
- Once you make a statement to the police, the investigation and direction of the case is in the hands of the police.
- After the investigation, the police forward a report to Crown Counsel (a lawyer representing the province or Crown). Based on the evidence, the Crown Counsel decides to proceed with the case or not.
- If the case proceeds to court, you will be called as a witness to describe your experience of the sexual assault. Going to court is a very individual experience; some people are empowered to have their story heard, and to face their abuser in court, while others can find it to be a difficult experience. In any event, a Victim Service Worker from the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre to assist and support you during this process.
- If you decide that you do not want to be directly involved in the legal process, the police may still be advised that a crime has occurred. A survivor may provide the police with a statement, written in their own words, about the crime but with the wish for it to not be investigated. The police will usually respect the wishes of the survivor and not investigate the crime. However, in some cases, such as public safety and current child protection, the police will override the survivors’ wishes and investigate.
- In some cases, survivors do have the option to make a third party report. A third party report . A Victim Service Worker from the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre may be able to pass along the details of the sexual assault, in the form of a Third Party Report. This kind of report is not investigated and will not become part of official police statistics, but it does inform the police that an assault has occurred and the details may be relevant to another investigation. You can decide if you would like to be contacted in the future if the police have other information about assaults that may have been perpetrated by the same person, or connected in some way.
No Police Involvement
- Not involving the police is a right that you have as a survivor. There are many reasons why not involving the police may be the right decision for you. Parents, partners and friends may not understand your decision due to their own feelings and thoughts. Remember, you know what is best for you at this time and only you can make this important decision.
- If the police investigate, they will turn their reports over to the Crown Counsel, a lawyer who represents the Crown at the trial. The Crown Counsel is not your lawyer. However, you are considered a key witness for the Crown at these proceedings. The Crown Counsel will schedule meetings to inform you of courtroom procedure and the questions you may be asked. You will likely feel better about the court process if you are supported and informed throughout it. In most areas, a Victim Service Worker is available to accompany you to meetings, to the trial, and to help prepare you for your role as witness.