How do the Police Investigate a Rape Charge in Michigan?

If someone calls the police to report a rape case in Michigan, it will immediately be taken very seriously. Police have a duty to thoroughly investigate claims of rape, known as “Criminal Sexual Conduct,” under Michigan law. If you’re being accused of rape, an experienced Michigan rape attorney will be able to take some of the unknown out of the situation and advise as to what will happen next and the best steps to take to avoid a criminal sexual conduct charge being filed.

Police Will First Meet with the Accuser

After the initial call to the police, the case will be assigned to a detective with sex crimes investigative training and experience. The detective will ask the accuser to meet- usually at the accuser’s home or at the police department- to discuss the claim in person. The detective will want to obtain the “who, what, where, and when” of the claim. Who did it? Who else was there? What exactly happened? Where did it happen? When did it happen?

They will also be conducting their investigation with an eye toward determining if the case requires additional resources, such as the assistance of other kinds of investigators, if evidence other than the statements of the victim exists, if there are possibly other victims, and whether other crimes may also have been committed.  The investigator will be evaluating the credibility of the victim’s statements and will be looking to determine exactly what level or degree of criminal sexual conduct occurred.

There are four levels of CSC in Michigan, with CSC first degree being the most serious. For example, the elements of a CSC first degree include a disparity in age between the alleged perpetrator and the victim, or a power difference, such as student and teacher, or they must live in the same household.  Knowing this, the investigator will be looking for additional facts that can be used in make later charging decisions.

Police Will Attempt to Contact and Interview the Accused

The detective, after hearing about the claim from the accuser, will want get a statement from the person accused of the rape. The detective may call the accused to set up a time to meet. Sometimes a detective will show up announced at the accused person’s house. In any case, the claim will be followed up on one way or the other, and police like to use the element of surprise whenever possible.  They will be seeking to catch the alleged perpetrator off guard and in a place where they lack supportive resources.

At this stage, it’s important to remember that the detective’s job is to gather information and forward it to the prosecutor to determine whether charges are appropriate. The detective’s job isn’t necessarily to get information that shows that the accused is guilty. However, if a detective starts to feel at any point in an interview with the accused that the person is guilty of the rape, it can lead them to ask more pressing questions. It is for this reason that it is very important that people who are asked to give a statement about an alleged rape obtain the best Michigan sex crimes attorney possible; because a simple interview can turn into a charge for criminal sexual conduct very quickly.  And if you don’t know the law, you can easily make what you think is a “innocent” admission that will later be used to enhance the charge from a lower degree of criminal sexual conduct to a higher degree of criminal sexual conduct.


Polygraph Examinations

It is very common for police to ask someone accused of rape to do a polygraph examination. Even though the results of the polygraph can’t be introduced into evidence at trial, the statements the accused person gives during the exam may be used as evidence. Additionally, if someone fails a polygraph examination, the failure can further motivate a prosecutor to file a rape charge.  More often than not the polygraph, and particularly the post-polygraph debriefing, is used as a powerful investigative tool and/or to obtain a subsequent confession.  For this reason the criminal sexual conduct defense lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm generally advise not to agree to submit to a polygraph.

On the other hand, an independent polygraph, meaning one directed by your lawyer not the government, can sometimes be used to prepare for a polygraph conducted by law enforcement or even to avoid the investigation from moving further. Suffice to say, agreeing to a polygraph exam with law enforcement without the advice of an attorney is generally not a good idea.

Formal Charges for Rape (Criminal Sexual Conduct)

Once the detective has completed the investigation, the report, all statements given, polygraph examination results, pictures, DNA evidence (if it exists), and all other evidence gathered will be sent to the prosecutor for review. If the prosecutor finds that there is probable cause that a rape occurred, a charge will be filed.

Is it possible I Won’t get Charged for Rape After Being Contacted by Police?

Especially with expert defense counsel involvement, it is possible that a person accused of rape will not end up getting formally charged. The accused stands the best chances at avoiding charges when a Michigan rape attorney is hired immediately after the accused learns of the claim. The more time the attorney has to advise the accused in communications with law enforcement, polygraph strategy, and all pre-charge strategy, the better the outcome will be.

For an example of a case where sex crimes lawyer Michael Boyle stopped rape charges from being filed in part through the use of a polygraph, please see: 1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct Charges Stopped.

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