How The Police Gather Evidence In Sexual Assault Cases

March 20, 2023


Sexual assault is an incredibly serious and sensitive topic that can touch on a multitude of emotional strings within a community.

Allegations of sexual assault can also have a significant impact on the accused individual, who may be subject to public scrutiny, social stigma, and even the loss of employment or relationships.

In this context, understanding how the police gather evidence in sexual assault cases is of critical importance, not only for the accused but for the entire community. Unfortunately, there are numerous instances where the rights of the accused are not acknowledged or altogether waived during evidence gathering, making it imperative to understand how the process works and your legal rights as laid out in the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms.

This knowledge can help you work with a sexual assault defence lawyer to challenge the evidence and protect your legal rights. By ensuring that the legal process is fair and just, we can work towards preventing sexual assault and promoting a safer and more equitable society for all.

Also Read: The Rights Of An Accused Person Under The Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms

In this blog post, we will provide an overview of how the police investigate sexual assault cases and gather evidence. We shall also focus on the role of a sexual assault defence lawyer in helping you navigate the investigation process.

The Investigation Process In Alberta

When a sexual assault is reported to the police in Alberta, the investigation process begins. While the process often varies from one provincial jurisdiction to another and even from case to case, we can broadly describe the process as follows:

Initial Interview

When an individual reports sexual assault to the police in Alberta, they will typically be asked to provide a statement about what happened to establish the basic details of the case.

Forensic Evidence Collection

Forensic evidence, such as DNA samples, can be a critical component in sexual assault cases in Alberta. The police may collect forensic evidence from the victim, the crime scene, and any potential suspects. The collection and testing of forensic evidence is governed by the DNA Identification Act, as well as the Criminal Code of Canada.

Witness Interviews

The police may interview witnesses who were present at the time of the assault or who have information related to the case. These interviews can help establish a timeline of events and provide additional context for the case.

Suspect Identification

If the victim is able to identify a suspect, the police may conduct an investigation to locate and apprehend that individual. This may involve conducting surveillance or obtaining a warrant for their arrest.

Police Interrogation

Once a suspect has been identified, the police may conduct an interrogation to gather additional information about the case. This can involve asking the suspect to provide a statement or submitting to a polygraph test. In Alberta, police interrogations are governed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which outlines the rights of the accused and limits the police’s ability to use coercive tactics.

Types Of Evidence And Their Admissibility In Alberta

In sexual assault cases in Alberta, there are several types of evidence that may be gathered by the police and used in court. Some of the most common types of evidence include:

Physical Evidence

Physical evidence such as DNA samples, clothing, and other items found at the crime scene can be critical in establishing the identity of the assailant and proving that a sexual assault occurred.

Eyewitness Testimony

Eyewitness testimony from the victim, witnesses, or others who were present at the time of the assault can provide important details about what happened and help establish a timeline of events. In Alberta, there are specific rules and procedures that govern the admissibility of witness testimony, including the Alberta Evidence Act and the Canada Evidence Act.

Expert Testimony

Expert witnesses such as medical professionals, forensic specialists, or psychologists may provide testimony related to the physical and psychological effects of sexual assault.

Character Evidence

Evidence related to the character of the victim or the accused may be presented in court, although it is generally given less weight than other types of evidence. Usually, this type of evidence is deemed irrelevant (except in certain circumstances) and, therefore, inadmissible.

Also Read: The Rules Of Evidence In Canadian Law – 911 Recordings

While these types of evidence can be used as powerful tools in prosecuting sexual assault cases, it is important to note that not all evidence may be admissible in court. Evidence that is obtained through illegal or unethical means may be deemed inadmissible, meaning that it cannot be used in court to support the prosecution’s case.

For example, if the police conduct a search of your property without a warrant or without any urgent reason to do so, any evidence they collect may be deemed to have been obtained illegally. As a result, such evidence would be considered inadmissible in court.

The Role Of A Reputed Sexual Assault Defence Lawyer

It is important for individuals to be aware of their rights and to consult with a criminal defence lawyer if they believe that their rights have been violated during the investigation process.

In a sexual assault case, it is crucial to work with a lawyer who has expertise in this area of law. Sexual assault cases can be highly complex and emotionally charged. Thus, it is important to have a lawyer who can provide knowledgeable and compassionate support throughout the investigation process together with high-end defence services.

A skilled sexual assault defence lawyer can help ensure that an accused person receives a fair trial and is protected from the potential consequences of a wrongful conviction.

About Slaferek Law

From drafting unique defence strategies against criminal accusations to defending the waived legal rights of an accused, our team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can help you with anything and everything related to criminal defence law. Learn more about Slaferek Law here.

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