Criminal Reporting Process

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RAINN Provides comprehensive information on Reporting and the Criminal Justice System.

What is the Criminal Reporting Process?

Following an experience of sexual or domestic violence, you can choose to report the assault to local law enforcement to investigate the crime that occurred. If the assault occurred on ASU’s campuses, you can report to the ASU Police Department by either calling 911 or the non-emergency line at 480-965-3456. If the crime occurred off campus, contact the police department in the city where the crime occurred. ASU Police works very closely with police departments in the surrounding area. If you are unsure if the assault occurred on campus or off, ASU Police can connect you to the correct jurisdiction if you know where you were when the assault occurred. During a criminal justice investigation, law enforcement will collect evidence about the crime, talk with witnesses and create a case to send for prosecution.

If you choose to make a police report, a police officer will respond to take an initial report regarding the crime that occurred. The officer will ask you to tell them what happened and might have follow up questions for you. The officer at this time may collect any evidence that might be available. Depending on the police department and jurisdiction, a detective may also respond or contact you at a later time for follow up and to continue the steps of the investigation.

In cases involving sexual assault, a medical forensic exam is part of the criminal reporting process, and may be offered if the assault occurred within the last five days. Regardless of where you are reporting the incident, exams are free of charge. In Maricopa County, the police will work with the HonorHealth Forensic Nurse Examiner Program to schedule the exam on your behalf at a Family Advocacy Center. Exams are available even if you choose to not involve law enforcement. You can access a list of all Family Advocacy Centers in Arizona by viewing the Arizona Medical Forensic Exam Facilities list.

For more information on the medical forensic exam view the Medical Forensic Exam Resource Guide.

What should individuals know about the Criminal Reporting Process?

While there are no time limitations on when a police report needs to be filed, each state has a different statute of limitations for when the crime can be prosecuted. In Arizona, there is no statute of limitations for sexual assault. The statute of limitations for domestic violence depends on the infraction and it is also important to know that depending on the jurisdiction, criminal statutes and arrest requirements may look different than a sexual assault investigation. RAINN offers a comprehensive database of laws in each state to help victims and survivors better understand definitions, statutes of limitations and consequences of various crimes.

What to expect when filing a report with law enforcement (police report)

According to United States State Records, “a police report is a document that describes all information found and experienced by law enforcement handling an incident, arrest, or crime…its purpose is to record the incident, names, witnesses, the crime itself, offenders involved, and the nature of the incident.”

Filing a police report, which can vary with every case, can take some time as it may include an interview, a medical forensic exam and other forensic evidence collection. Depending on the police department, a crime victim advocate or mental health professional may be available for support and to help guide you through the process. During the interview, you will be asked questions that might feel intrusive or make you uncomfortable. Obtaining information about the location and circumstances is necessary to determine what evidence may be helpful in the investigation. You always have the right to take a break during the interview.

At the conclusion of the investigation the police will review the case and determine if they have enough evidence to submit charges for the crime to the county attorney’s office for review. The prosecutor’s office will determine whether to move forward with a criminal case and press charges. If your case is sent to the prosecutor's office and was not pursued as a criminal case, you have the right to confer with the charging prosecutor assigned to your case. This process may look a little different from various jurisdictions. The crime victim advocate can provide you with information about the process of the jurisdiction where you are filing a police report.