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Reporting to Police
Reporting to Police
You can always choose to talk to the police about a sexual assault or child sexual abuse.
If you are 18 years old or over, the decision to talk to the police or make a police report is up to you. Some victims say that participating in the criminal process helped them. Reporting soon after the assault will best help the police gather information and evidence. However, it is okay if you don’t talk to the police right away.
If you are under 18 years old, you can also make a police report. Some people may be required to tell the police if they believe you were sexually assaulted or abused. In Michigan, this can include teachers, coaches, counselors, doctors, nurses, faith leaders and others. If another person makes a report, you may be contacted by a police officer.
You can ask to have a support person with you when you talk to the police. This support person could be a family member, friend, or advocate from a local sexual assault services program. In many Michigan communities, police use child-friendly spaces called Child Advocacy Centers to interview potential victims of child sexual abuse that are under a certain age.
Call the Michigan Sexual Assault Hotline to talk about these options or connect with services in your community.
The Investigation Process
If you make a police report, an officer will be assigned to the case. The officer will talk to you and to other witnesses. The officer may also collect items or electronic evidence such as cell phones or social media information. After investigating, the officer should send a report to the prosecuting attorney’s office. The prosecutor will review the report and decide whether to file criminal charges. The prosecutor may also wish to talk to you. You can decide whether or not to participate in the investigation process.
Help and Resources
Child Advocacy Centers
Many Michigan communities have child focused organizations that work with police, prosecutors and Children’s Protective Services to respond to child sexual abuse. These organizations may provide services such as forensic interviews, medical evaluation, victim support, and advocacy and counseling.
Local Sexual Assault Services Programs
Many Michigan communities have local sexual assault services programs that can provide free and confidential crisis support, advocacy, and counseling. Many will also have advocates who can accompany a victim to make a police report or other appointments. Call the Michigan Sexual Assault Hotline to talk about these options or connect with confidential victim services in your community.
Victim Advocates at the Prosecuting Attorney's Office
In Michigan, each prosecuting attorney’s office typically has a victim advocate. These victim advocates can provide information and support to you after you have talked to police. The prosecutor victim advocates also notify you when court action is happening in your case, as required by the Michigan’s Crime Victims’ Rights Act. Find a prosecution-based victim advocate through the local prosecuting attorney’s Office.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I make a police report?You can call 911 if you are in immediate danger. Help will come to you, wherever you are. You can also contact the police department in the jurisdiction where the assault happened. Call the direct line of the police department or visit the department in person. You may be able to bring a support person with you when you make the report.
Is there a time limit on reporting to the police?No. The police will always take a report. However, there is a window of time when a case can be prosecuted, called the statute of limitations. Statutes of limitation vary by type of crime, age of the victim, and various other factors. In some circumstances, there is no statute of limitations for sexual assault. Even if your case cannot be prosecuted, reporting to the police could still make a difference. For example, it could help prosecute the perpetrator in another case. It could also make you eligible for crime victims compensation or other services.
Is attempted sexual assault a crime?Yes. Attempted sexual assault is a serious crime and can be reported. Reports of attempted assault are taken seriously.
I have no physical injuries, does that matter?No. Most sexual assaults do not result in physical injuries. The police can rely on your statement and other evidence. You can also have a sexual assault medical forensic exam to check for biological evidence, including DNA. DNA is biological evidence that can identify a person.
Does it matter if I agreed to sexual contact with the perpetrator in the past?No. It does not matter if you have agreed to sex or sexual contact with the perpetrator in the past. Past consensual sex or touching DOES NOT make it legal for the perpetrator to assault you or force you to engage in sex or touching that you do not want.
Is it still sexual assault if I am dating or married to the perpetrator?Yes. No one has the right to make you have sex or engage in sexual contact unless you agree to it. Sexual assault in this type of relationship is also a form of domestic violence or dating violence. You may have additional worries about your safety or the safety of your children. To learn more about domestic violence and dating violence call or visit the national domestic violence hotline or find a local domestic violence service program in your area.
What if I was drunk or under the influence of drugs during the assault?Using alcohol or drugs does NOT make you responsible when someone assaults you. It is common for sexual assault perpetrators to assault victims who have voluntarily used alcohol or drugs. Some perpetrators also give potential victims alcohol or drugs in order to assault them. Some victims may still feel nervous about reporting a sexual assault because they fear getting into trouble for consuming alcohol or drugs. Typically, police will not bring drug or alcohol charges against a person who has reported a sexual assault in good faith. Michigan has a law that says that a minor should not be charged for underage alcohol use if they seek healthcare for sexual assault or treatment for intoxication. MCL 436.1703 (10). This law also protects a minor who accompanies an intoxicated friend to the health facility.
Is it against the law for someone to share intimate images of me online?Yes. It is illegal in Michigan to share intimate photographs or videos of an adult without their consent. MCL 750.145e. This is called “non-consensual pornography.” It doesn’t matter if you agreed to have the picture taken or gave it to another individual, it cannot be posted or shared on social media unless you have agreed.
What about explicit images of children?In Michigan, it is illegal to possess, create, or share any sexually explicit images of children (anyone under the age of 18). MCL 145c.
Do I have to report to the police to get a medical forensic examination ("rape kit")?Many people and the media use the term “rape kit” to refer to the box of supplies used for forensic evidence collection. The kit is a box that contains swabs, envelopes, instructions and forms. If you agree, the doctor or nurse will use the kit during the exam to collect possible DNA evidence.
Do I have to pay for the sexual assault medical forensic exam?No. Michigan law mandates that you should not be billed for the direct costs of the sexual assault medical forensic exam. MCL 18.355a. Your insurance can be billed, but you should not be required to make a co-pay. If you have privacy concerns, your insurance cannot be billed and a state program called SAFE Response will reimburse the healthcare provider for the examination and evidence collection. If you have been billed for a forensic medical examination, call SAFE Response at (517) 335-7233.
Can I still have an examination if I knew the perpetrator?Yes. There is value in having a sexual assault forensic exam, regardless of whether or not you know the identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators. DNA evidence collected during the exam can play an important role in the case against the perpetrator.