IF YOU MAKE A POLICE REPORT
If you make a police report, here’s what you need to know about the process:
If you wish to report the incident to police, you should contact police in the area that the offense took place. If you are unsure which police to contact, contact your local police first and they can assist you.
When you call the police, you may speak to a dispatcher or to an officer. Either way, you will be asked for your name and contact information and general information about the offense, such as when it happened. If you speak to a dispatcher first, an officer will contact you shortly after.
2. Speaking with an officer
The officer will ask for your personal information such as date of birth, address and phone number. The officer will also ask you about the incident. If the incident was recent, the officer will ask if you need medical attention and assist with getting that for you. If you do NOT want medical assistance, you do not need to go.
3. Providing a formal statement
The officer will likely ask you to provide a statement. The officer will request the statement be provided at the police station and for it to be recorded. The reason for a recording is for the police to get an exact record of what you have to say and what the police asked or told you. It also allows the officer to pay more attention to what you have to say. You do NOT have to provide a statement if you do not want to, or if you change your mind about doing so.
4. If you do not make a statement
If you choose not to make a statement, the officer will check back with you at least one time to see if you have changed your mind. If you still do not want to make a statement, the incident will remain on the police record system, but will be closed off. This does not mean that the police didn’t believe what you told them, it just means that they don’t have enough information from you to continue with an investigation. You can go back to the police at ANY time in the future to give more information about the incident if you decide you are ready to do so.
5. Preparing to make a statement
If you would like to make a statement, you will be asked to go to your local police station. The statement can be recorded by writing, audio or video. Depending on your police service you may be have the option to speak only to a female officer. Sometimes this means you have to come back on a different day because there isn’t always female officers on duty and available. Either way, it is your choice.
6. Making a police statement
During your statement with police, the officer is going to talk to you about what happened. The officer may ask you about things like:
- what happened earlier that day
- about any relationship or contact you have had with the accused person prior to the incident
- what you did after the incident
- what you were wearing
- where the incident happened
- if anyone else was around
- what was said during the incident
All of this information can help the officer understand the incident and figure out if there may be other potential evidence that needs to be gathered.
If other people were around, the police will likely want to talk to them too.
If the incident was recent, the police may ask to take your clothes to be tested. They may also ask to take bed sheets if that is where the assault took place.
7. If you received medical attention
If you received medical attention, the police officer will likely talk to you about a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit and a medical release form. A health care practitioner (doctor or nurse) will have discussed this option with you at the time you saw them. You do NOT have to do a sexual assault kit, however the evidence that may be gained from a sexual assault kit can assist in an investigation.
If you received medical attention, the officer will likely ask you sign a medical release form. This is a form that allows the medical practitioners to give police copies of medical records that were made that relate ONLY to the day or days that are on the form.
After you have provided your statement, the police will continue its investigation. This may take some time. It may mean talking to other witnesses or reviewing other evidence that has been gathered by the police such as phone records or medical records.
Before a person can be charged, the police need to have “reasonable ground” that he or she committed an offense. If the police have reasonable grounds in your situation, they will tell you that the accused can or will be charged. The police will talk to you about their decision.
10. The release of an offender
After being charged, the police will determine if it is appropriate to release the offender with or without conditions. Conditions can be put in place to protect you and the public and to ensure the offender attends court. If the offender is not released, they will go to bail court. At that point the Crown Attorney decides whether they will agree to the accused being released. If the Crown Attorney does not agree to release, the accused will have to run a bail hearing. After a Bail Hearing, it is up to the Justice of the Peace to determine if releasing the offender is appropriate. Bail court only deals with the issue of whether or not the accused is being released, it does not decide if the accused is guilty or innocent of the charges against them.
If the offender is charged and goes through the court system, you will have occasional contact with police. They will update you on the charges and any conditions put on the offender. The accused may consult with a lawyer to decide how they are going to proceed. An accused person could plead guilty to the offenses they are charged with, they could plead guilty to “lesser” offenses, or they could dispute the charges and set the matter for trial. If the matter is set for trial, as the victim, you will likely be served with a document that requires you to attend court called a Subpoena. If you are served with a Subpoena, it will tell you the date, time and location which you are required to attend court. Other people who may be considered as witnesses by either the defense (the accused) or the prosecution (Crown Attorney) will also be required to attend court. If you are served, and do not attend court without seeking permission, the Crown Attorney may request a witness warrant from the Judge. If the Judge issues a witness warrant, you could be arrested by the police for not showing up to court when you were required – even if you are the victim and have not been charged with anything yourself. It is important if you are served a Subpoena, that you talk to a Victim Witness Assistance Program worker, or the Crown Attorney about your case – especially if you have circumstances that prevent you from attending court. If you are not sure who to speak to, contact your local police court case management office or officer and they will be able to provide you with the contact information for the Crown Attorney. The Crown Attorney’s office will also be able to help with things like arranging transportation to court (especially if your court location is not where you normally live).
11. Assistance and support
The police may ask you if you would like assistance or support from other agencies. This may include things like the Victim Witness Assistance Program which assists victims with the court process. Other supports include mental health support or counselling. You can find all your community resources by clicking here.