Sexual Assault – Police or Sue?

April 12, 2024

By: Rob Talach

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Anyone struggling with what to do after a sexual assault is confronted with the question – Do I go to the Police? The overwhelming advice offered here is – YES – absolutely!

There is a lot of bad press and urban myths about the police response to sexual assault complaints. The common myth is that very few of these complaints result in criminal charges. The reality is that about half of sexual assault complaints result in criminal charges. Statistics from 2006 to 2017 show rates between 37% to a high of 43%, depending upon the year and the province. The rate has been INCREASING over time due to the improved training of police and society’s increased awareness. The above statistics relate ONLY to charges for a sexual offence being laid and do not include situations where a charge for a non-sexual offence may be laid against a sexual perpetrator such as common assault, criminal harassment or other offences. So that is why the number of complaints which result in SOME TYPE of criminal charge is about half. So basically, you have a coin toss chance of a criminal charge being laid.

Getting a criminal charge laid is an important accomplishment in itself. In our modern world of background checks and databases, this is an important event. Even if a conviction is not achieved the perpetrator is “in the system”. If they commit another sexual crime, the earlier charges will make it that much more likely that charges will be laid again and ultimately that a conviction will be achieved. Sometimes it takes more than one try to stop a sexual perpetrator. A prior charge, even without a conviction may also be enough to deny them a Vulnerable Sector Screening clearance (ie. Police Records Check) which will prevent them from working with vulnerable people, youth or other potential victims.

There is also a lot of focus on rates of conviction which is a statistic that is difficult to assess because there are so many variables which impact individual cases. Each sexual assault case stands on its own evidence so looking to generalized statistics is not helpful in trying to predict if you will get a conviction. In the end, all you can do is make the complaint, cooperate fully with the police and have the resilience to see it through to the end.

If the criminal process does not result in a conviction or does not provide you the justice and healing you seek, there is also the option of starting a civil lawsuit and suing the perpetrator. This step is best left to AFTER the criminal process is fully exhausted. There is no time limit for going to the police or suing. If you were sexually abused or assaulted decades ago you can still go to police and/or sue.

Any law firm which is serious about representing victims of sexual assault should be willing to give you some pro bono – no charge – free advice on these options. If you want to speak to an experienced Victim’s Advocate here at Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers please reach out to us on our toll-free national number of 1-866-674-4994.

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