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Role of Police Following a Sexual Assault

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A woman in a police uniform stands next to a building

Advocating for sexual assault survivors

York Regional Police understands that while sexual assaults often cause long-lasting trauma, victims may have difficulty speaking about incidents with friends, family members, or police officers.

We want to bring sexual assault cases to a resolution by conducting a professional and thorough investigation, while also providing assistance and the resources necessary to support victims during this period of recovery. 

If I call the police, what happens next?

After being dispatched to a complaint of a sexual assault, a uniformed officer will:

  • Assess your physical and emotional condition and request an ambulance if necessary
  • Secure the scene and preserve all physical evidence. You will be encouraged to preserve evidence by avoiding washing.
  • Conduct an interview in a private environment to learn basic details about the incident
  • Provide information on the Sexual Assault Examination Kit (SAEK) and its importance to the investigation
  • Contact a sexual assault investigator to follow up
  • Dispatch an officer of your gender at your request

What is an investigator's role?

A woman wearing a blazer stands with a large group of peopleA sexual assault investigator assigned to your case will:

  • Ensure you have access to medical care
  • Facilitate the collection of evidence
  • Consult with Victim Services of York Region on your behalf
  • Arrange to conduct an in-depth interview
  • Lay charges when appropriate
  • Keep you informed of the investigation's progress and allow your input as to conditions of release at a bail hearing
  • Advise you that you have the right to complete a Victim Impact Statement, as well as the preparation for court necessary under the Victim Witness Assistance Program

What happens in court?

Step 1: Victim/Witness Assistance Program (V/WAP)

You will be referred to a V/WAP worker based in the Ontario Court of Justice at 50 Eagle St. W., Newmarket, who will guide you through the judicial process. The V/WAP worker will provide you with copies of court documents, including bail conditions and probation orders, help you complete a Victim Impact Statement, co-ordinate your meeting with the Crown Attorney if you are required to testify and, most importantly, provide emotional support throughout the process.

Step 2: Crown Attorney

Once a date for a preliminary hearing is set, a Crown Attorney will be assigned to the case. The Crown will meet with you, along with a V/WAP worker and the investigating officer, to prepare for the trial. In most cases, he or she will also apply for a publication ban of any evidence or information that may identify you. The judge may also safeguard the interests of any witnesses under the age of 18 and exclude any or all members of the public from the courtroom if they deem necessary.

Step 3: Preliminary Hearing

A brown-bricked building with greeneryA preliminary hearing is not required in every case, but it is common when sexual assault charges have been laid. At the preliminary hearing, a judge will decide if the Crown has enough evidence to proceed to trial. You will have to testify, while other witnesses, the accused and his/her lawyer may or may not testify.

Step 4: Trial

If the accused pleads not guilty, you will be required to attend court to testify at a preliminary hearing and trial. If the accused is found guilty, you will be asked to complete a Victim Impact Statement.

What is a Victim Impact Statement?

The Victim Impact Statement is your opportunity to explain how the sexual assault has affected your life. It may discuss the emotional, physical and financial implications of the sexual assault. Your Victim Impact Statement is taken into consideration by the judge during sentencing, but providing one is up to you.