Q. How do charges get pressed in sex cases? Who makes the decision? How long can it take?
A. Typically, a case begins when someone makes a report to law enforcement or Child Protective Services. In any situation where a child is involved, Michigan law has made some specific individuals in certain professions “mandatory reporters.” This means that upon having a suspicion that abuse or neglect has taken place, they are required to report that suspicion to Child Protective Services within 24 hours. When allegations of abuse or neglect involve criminal activity, CPS works closely with the police as both agencies conduct an investigation.
Prosecutors have the discretion to decide which crimes are charged. In making that decision, the prosecutor will rely on information collected by the police. The prosecutor will look at the information and determine specifically which crime is an appropriate charge to the allegations. The prosecutor will determine if there is adequate information to proceed and evaluate what might have happened. At times, the prosecutor will close the file. Other times, the prosecutor will ask the police to collect more information and request the police continue their investigation. Alternatively, the prosecutor may determine there is enough evidence to proceed. When this happens, the prosecutor will prepare a warrant for the suspect’s arrest.
When allegations of a sex crime are on the table, it is important to know how seriously the police and prosecutors take their jobs. As elected officials, many prosecutors feel pressure from their voters to maintain a position of being tough on crime. Naturally, prosecutors are especially tough on allegations of rape, molestation, sexual abuse and other sex crimes as these crimes are perceived to be the most heinous types of allegations a person can face.
It can sometimes take hours for an allegation to be charged. Other times, it can be days or weeks. In some cases, it takes months. Shannon Smith has experience representing numerous clients before charges are actually pressed. Many times by communicating with the police, providing clients good legal advice about what to do and what not to do, and talking to the prosecutor before charges are pressed, these cases can go away. If the case is not likely to be closed, and a warrant is sure to follow, it is still important to begin setting up the strongest defense possible. Shannon Smith uses a trial strategy that is unlike many other attorneys. By scheduling a consultation, she can teach you about the most effective way to fight your case.