In contrast with other parts of a sexual abuse case, the arrest can take different forms depending on what actually happened in the case.
If it’s a situation where sexual abuse is immediately reported after the event to law enforcement and the individual who’s being accused is still present or is nearby and readily found, then law enforcement will seek to immediately arrest that person, perhaps before a full investigation even occurs. In other words, if it’s still a hot case in the sense that the conduct recently happened, they have the ability to arrest the person right there and then. In this instance it is very important that the defendant consult with a DC sex abuse lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that their rights are protected and they do not incriminate themselves.
More commonly, in the second and fourth degree abuse situations where someone is alleged to have been taken advantage of, what typically happens is the person who is making the complaint goes into the police station or makes a call to the police and says, I’ve just been assaulted, I’ve been taken advantage of, or I’ve been abused.
Then the police immediately bring in the sexual abuse unit, bringing several detectives from Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and they begin the investigation. They’ll interview the complainant, they’ll interview any witnesses that they can find, they’ll want to follow up with the suspect and see if they can interview the suspect. Then they’ll complete their investigation and consult with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to decide if there’s enough information there to seek and obtain an arrest warrant. If they do so, they’ll get an arrest warrant that the judge will sign off on from the D.C. Superior Court, and then there will be a warrant to go and arrest that individual.
In many of my cases, I will be contacted and retained prior to an arrest warrant having been issued. The individual will retain my services such that I will get into the process, start talking to the detective, and make sure that if any charge is going to be filed, the detective immediately lets me know that an arrest warrant has been issued and contacts me. This is so I can arrange a self-surrender, so that they’re not going and arresting my client at home, at work, or somewhere else. That is the most common scenario for my cases, where individuals will retain me prior to being arrested.
It depends on the specific situation and facts of the case. If it’s a situation where the complaint is made immediately after the alleged sexual abuse and law enforcement is able to get the person, then they will do so. Particularly if they’ve got corroborating evidence, they’ll absolutely want to do so.
If the situation allegedly involves a weapon such that they think that this is an extremely dangerous person out on a loose, they’re going to put every effort into making the arrest as soon as possible. If, on the other hand, it’s a situation where the evidence is unclear and they’re going to have to conduct an investigation to find other witnesses or video evidence, or they need to do testing—whether it be DNA testing, bodily fluid testing, or a sexual assault nurse examination of the complainant—the arrest won’t be made until they believe that they’ve got all of the evidence they need to go forward to prosecution. Sometimes that takes days and sometimes that takes months.
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