What To Do When… You Are Sexually Assaulted.
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Episode 23: What To Do When… You Are Sexually Assaulted. with Scott Cardani and Jackie Critzer.
Welcome to What To Do When….A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss What to do When, and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.
Jackie Critzer 0:27
Hi, and welcome back to What To Do When… a podcast here at Critzer Cardani in Richmond, Virginia.
Scott Cardani 0:35
What To Do When… You Are Sexually Assaulted.
Jackie Critzer 0:38
Woah Scott That’s a, that’s a heavy topic,
Scott Cardani 0:41
It really is a it’s a very heavy topic and very, very serious topic.
Jackie Critzer 0:45
Well, so let’s start by by saying this. I caution the listener to this podcast in a couple of areas. But number one, these are very serious accusations that should only be reported when they happen. False accusations of sexual assault of any kind are life altering, and very, very damaging to a person. You can get in to quite a bit of trouble for making false accusations of any kind. But certainly, false accusations of sexual assault can carry a lot of repercussions on everybody involved. So first and foremost, this is really directed at those who have been sexually assaulted. We’ll walk through that. But I just strongly encourage you to make sure that the details are not embellished, that they are to the best of your memory. And we’ll walk you through how to help preserve those memories and, and make sure that you’re ready to make an accurate report.
Scott Cardani 1:40
And I want to say one more thing about what Jackie said the seriousness and why we’re so concerned about it, because we see both sides in what false accusations do is actually hurt true victims. And so when this there’s a flood of these, and there’s a flood of false accusations and when the real person steps up, and as a real case, they it starts to get tainted, and it’s really a sad thing. And that’s where really our affirmation and our concern is for people who are really victims. We want them to have every right and every sector of justice afforded to them. So that’s why it’s important to us. We’re not trying to bash anybody but we see I’ve seen a number of false allegations in my time, I’m sure you know, and more embellished organizations. So that’s why it’s important, because the real victims are the real ones who pay.
Jackie Critzer 2:33
That’s a that’s a great point, Scott. Well, first what is sexual assault? We’ve talked previously spoken previously about Assault or Battery, the unwanted touching really, I just battered stuff, right unwanted touching. But what is sexual assault?
Scott Cardani 2:49
Well, that’s really what it is. It’s it’s the unwanted touch touching in the sexual manner. And, uh, you know, it can be a sexual body part or something that’s considered sexual in nature. And it really sometimes it’s really hard to tell where the intent lies. You know, if a kid bumps a child, boy bumps or girl school in the wrong place, was there actually intended to sexually assault or was it a bump? Or was it a, I’m gonna hit Jackie in a bath and actually hit her in the front kind of thing? Yeah, so there’s the intent of it behind it, but basically, it is it’s a sexual, unwanted sexual touching. Right, right. And it can go further, obviously, there’s rape and there’s, you know, aggravated sexual battery, there’s a lot of different components to it, but we’re just talking generally.
Jackie Critzer 3:32
This is this is sort of a broad brushstroke over a broad brushstroke over the entire category, not necessarily a what would be considered a minor sexual assault, which may be an unwanted boob grab which serious, of course, in the workplace or anywhere serious. We’re not talking about that only and not we’re not also talking about this person who was raped, but all of them together as a general guide under sexual assault.
Scott Cardani 4:01
Yes, so Jackie, what do you do first, you have an incident? What’s your first response?
Jackie Critzer 4:07
I mean, the first thing you want to do if you’ve if you’ve been injured, is go seek medical treatment.
Scott Cardani 4:12
So, why medical?
Jackie Critzer 4:14
Well, you’re going to have a record that of what happened. You’re going to if you walk into an emergency department, at the hospital, and you make a report of what happened to you. If you walk in you say this person grabbed my boob or grabbed my butt. There’s that’s not a medical concern. Right. You’re not that there’s no reason to go seek medical treatment for that. But we’re talking more I mean, on a serious sexual assault when there has been an injury and rape is injury, okay. Forced sexual contact is injury.
Scott Cardani 4:48
Or if you’ve been beat up during something like that, you know, you have bumps and bruises and scrapes and all those things that can be you know, a company that kind of assault.
Jackie Critzer 4:58
In our mind you want to get or seek medical treatment first number one is going to make a record. And if you tell your care provider what happened, they will call in probably the social worker for the hospital, and very likely an investigator or detective from your local police department to help you preserve what happened. Because in an instant, and an incident like that, oftentimes your memory just isn’t clear. And it’s the longer you wait after the incident, the less clear the memory is, and maybe not even less clear, but maybe less accurate. Sometimes, if you see an accident happened in front of you, and you there are 10 people there, and you’re gonna get 10 different stories, 10 different perspectives. And as time goes on, if there’s not a written statement, it’s very difficult to remember exactly what happened in those details. So going going to get medical attention, if there’s been an injury involved in the sexual assault, we’ll help preserve the story and the accuracy of the record of what happened.
Scott Cardani 5:58
Yeah, and remember too they’re looking for DNA. DNA can be seen, and of course, and those kinds of things. But it also can be from scratches under the skin and, or saliva or things. So, you know, they’re experts normally in most of the emergency rooms will handle this every day. And their first objective is to collect any kind of DNA or any kind of hair or you know, anything like that, that can really come up. And that’s why they usually get the police involved. So you have this two step process, and it also preserves the evidence properly. All kinds of things like that there will be important in moving forward with your case and proving your case.
Jackie Critzer 6:34
Well, did did the police have to get involved?
Scott Cardani 6:37
Yeah, they do. I mean, you could take it civilly for sure. You could do what’s called a civil case and a money judgment kind of a case. And I’ve done those, but usually those are after a criminal case is usually heard. But that is not a one or the other or have to or must. It’s usually though, in these sorts of cases, prosecution is very important. Because we don’t want people out there doing this kind of stuff.
Jackie Critzer 7:05
Right. And now, although it seems intimidating, or scary, or you may be experiencing, or know someone who’s experiencing guilt or shame, because of what happened to them, it’s really important to get the help that you need. And some most of the time, the first step in that is getting medical treatment. And then there’s a support network that’s offered, usually when that happens as well. So it is important to make the report and it doesn’t mean every every case is going to go to trial. That’s that’s not that’s not reason that doesn’t happen every single time. But but in the cases that are strong, and that can be taken to trial, it typically starts because the person went and sought medical attention. And they were able to gather some DNA evidence from from the victim during that first episode at the medical provider.
Scott Cardani 7:54
Or even photos or whatever they need, you know, photos of the scrapes and bruises, you know, they they you know, these are fresh wounds, so to speak, and, and they met medical people can testify, this just happened. This is a fresh cut on your arm, and it’s not three days old. It’s not 10 days old, all those kinds of things are shower over. Yeah, please, please, please, please, that’s probably the number one mistake. I don’t know why it’s in every movie, but everybody takes a shower, right? First thing they do, it’s the dumbest thing you could do in the sense of preserving the evidence. So it does all kinds of things to the skin and all all those things. And I know, I know, the instinct has to become clean, right? And I get it. But you have to really fight that instinct. And that’s why we say at the hospital first thing. And you know, if you’re obviously have close family members or friends, you want to call somebody meet you there or take you there, whatever it is, you need that support, you need somebody there holding your hand through this process, because it isn’t fun. It isn’t nice and nothing to be scared of. But it’s just I mean, your life has been altered and you want somebody there to hold your hand. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Jackie Critzer 8:56
Absolutely. Right. Well, Scott, what’s the next thing after you go seek medical attention? What’s the next thing?
Scott Cardani 9:02
Well, that’s where the police are gonna get involved. Either you’re gonna record it or the hospital. Normally, if you’re in the hospital, and it’s serious enough, they’re going to report it. But regardless, that’s the next step they are going to send out a detective or usually a detective. In these kinds of situations, it’s usually a detective that comes out and does the investigation and they’re gonna ask you some questions. The good thing is they’ve done this for a while so they understand it, they’re not going to put you in all kinds of pressure, they’re gonna get the general lay of the land as much as they need, and realize that you’re in a lot of trauma and handle that pretty appropriately.
Jackie Critzer 9:37
Well, there’s TV shows about sexual victims and whatnot and those in Hollywood, right. Keep in mind that Hollywood really puts a different spin on how police handle things in general, but not the least of which are sexual assault cases. But in some cases, if you haven’t been injured, your first step is in medical your first step. Maybe calling the police Absolutely.
Scott Cardani 9:59
I mean You know, if it’s more of what Jackie said, somebody held you down and touched, you know, which is awful, which is awful, and which is a battery, and a sexual battery. You know, like Jackie said at the beginning, you may not have any physical damage, or any kind of DNA or anything else. Um, if you were fighting and yet some scratches, maybe it’s worth trying to preserve that skin under the nails or something like that. But that police report is very important. Again, time is everything. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. And what I mean by that the worst the evidence gets. Time, you know, there was an old lawyer in Richmond for years. I won’t mention his name, but His strategy was, he would continue and continue and continue and continue and continue cases. And eventually, the witnesses couldn’t be found, the evidence couldn’t be found. And you know, that it doesn’t happen as much. But that’s still time is usually on the defendant side when you wait. That usually helps the person that you’re trying to connect or get justice for.
Jackie Critzer 11:03
Sure. Sure. So make a police report, or do you call the police you call 911? I mean, does it all depend on where this happened? The severity of what happened?
Scott Cardani 11:12
I honestly think you just call 911 If you believe you’ve been sexually assaulted, I’d call immediately 911 get somebody out there immediately. That’s gonna be your quickest. I mean, I think it’s 511 is just call a local precinct or whatever it is.
Jackie Critzer 11:25
I feel like that’s utility.
Scott Cardani 11:27
I think that is sorry.
Jackie Critzer 11:29
So don’t utility.
Scott Cardani 11:30
Don’t call utility.
Jackie Critzer 11:31
Unless you’re digging in your yard.
Scott Cardani 11:33
I do think there’s a general number, and I can’t remember now. But anyways, you can call the police department. But I really think in these kinds of cases, just dial 911. Get people out there, get people around you pretty quickly, that’s going to be your quickest, most effective way to get the police involved.
Jackie Critzer 11:50
Is there any point in time where you need to get your own private investigator or have someone investigating this from a from private avenue versus the police and police detectives?
Scott Cardani 12:02
I think that’s the other incident. Sometimes you do. And sometimes you need a lawyer, like us involved. It just really depends on your circumstances. But, you know, I think once you’ve done the immediate steps of going to the hospital, and you’ve talked to the police it there’s nothing wrong with talking to a lawyer. And or talking to a private investigator and trying to figure out what other options. If you think there’s some evidence that the police aren’t looking at, or you feel like the case isn’t being handled the way you think it should be handled. Those are really important steps and things to look at.
Jackie Critzer 12:34
All right, so three takeaways, if you’re sexually assaulted. First and foremost…
Scott Cardani 12:39
Yeah – first, make sure you document either in most likely you’re gonna go to the hospital and try to document.
Jackie Critzer 12:46
And number two, you’re going to get the police involved. Whether that was your first step because you weren’t physically injured, or it’s your second step, because you’ve you’ve sought medical attention. First, police are going to be involved in preserve that. That’s a chain of evidence. So it’s the DNA, it’s the maybe saliva, it’s maybe a hair that was left behind whatever the case may be, you want the police involved to help preserve that evidence of the assault to get a proper conviction.
Scott Cardani 13:12
And your story.
Jackie Critzer 13:14
Well, your your story that’s not embellished, that’s an accurate report of what happened, right.
Scott Cardani 13:19
And then third, we don’t want to get the lawyer involved, or the private investigator, depending on your case. Especially, you know, a lot of these things will stem out of domestic cases that may turn into divorce or child custody cases, or all those kinds of things. And a lot of this kind of stuff happens in in a marriage or in a relationship with kids. And so it’s really important to know how that’s going to affect the rest of the situation you got on. For instance, if you were sexually assaulted, and you have kids within that the guy who sexually assaulted you, you need to know immediately. You need to have a plan in place for your safety and the kids safety and everybody’s safety. So contacting a lawyer and getting all that straight is very important.
Jackie Critzer 13:23
Absolutely. The next steps, that’s a great point Scott. The next steps following the sexual assault.
Scott Cardani 14:02
Can I say one more thing, because it just thought about it? We talked about the second step getting a police, the police are gonna probably direct you to get a protective order. And you know, so that’s really important. And we’ve talked about protective orders and other things. But I just wanted to kind of clarify that that’s probably going to be a step but they don’t do it. I’d go do it and immediate minute, and that might be one reason to come get a lawyer. I don’t feel protected, don’t feel safe. Can you help me get a protective order, we can certainly help you do that.
Jackie Critzer 14:25
And it is a piece of paper, right? It’s a court order, but it’s a piece of paper. And so when when Scott said contacting a lawyer and trying to figure out your next steps to get you to a safe place you your children or whatever it may be. That’s important. Even if you get a protective order, you still need to make sure you’re in a safe, secure space, whether that’s with friends or family. But definitely understanding that the protective order is only a piece of paper. It can only protect you so much if someone is really trying to get after you. So it’s important to what they say circle your wagons and make sure that you’re taking good care of yourself and leaning on the people who can help get the answers.
Scott Cardani 15:01
We pray you never have to go through this. But, we thought it was important to discuss it and let you all know What To Do When..
Jackie Critzer 15:07
Absolutely. So like and subscribe here at What To Do When… the Critzer Cardani podcast and we look forward to seeing you next time.
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