What Is a Sex Crime Detective’s Job?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

sex crimes detectiveSex crimes are some of the most heinous crimes committed in the country. They are also a crime where it is easy for one person to be wrongfully accused and even convicted of something they did not do. While there have been significant advances in DNA technology, many convictions rely on witness testimony, victim testimony, and the evidence collected at the scene.

If you are accused of a sex crime, you will likely deal with a sex crime detective. These detectives work exclusively in sex crimes. However, smaller jurisdictions may have detectives that work multiple crime areas.

The role of the detective is complex. How they investigate the crime depends on numerous factors. But the goal of a sex crime detective is to build a strong case that can be prosecuted so that the right person is arrested and convicted of that crime.

How Police Officers Become Detectives in Albuquerque

If you are dealing with a detective, you are dealing with someone who has been in law enforcement for some time. A person does not automatically hire in as a detective. Instead, they go to school and enter civil service by attending the police academy. The academy is a first-hand training session that teaches individuals how to work as police officers.

Police officers typically work three to four years before they can be promoted to detective. Even then, they must pass promotions and tests. For specialty detective positions, some jurisdictions require that the officer has a bachelor’s degree. And for sex crimes, often the officer must have specialized training in domestic violence, sex crimes, and other specific areas before they are accepted into the promotion pool.

Steps of a Criminal Investigation into an Alleged Sex Crime

It does not matter the crime you are accused of, the steps are similar in how the detective will investigate. Sometimes the defendant is already under arrest, while other times the detective investigates and gathers enough evidence to find the guilty party and obtain a warrant to arrest them.

The prosecution must review the evidence and determine if they wish to proceed. In some cases, even with a suspect in custody, the prosecution may decline to prosecute because they feel the evidence is not strong enough to win a conviction in court.

Crime Scene Management

A big role detectives play is crime scene management. Detectives must not only keep the premises clear of unauthorized parties, but also must remain in control of the evidence at the scene.

Detectives must consider the three potential elements of a crime scene, which includes the victim, the location of the alleged crime, and the guilty party. They need to establish a link between the three elements with the evidence they have collected. Also, the alleged crime scene is not just a single room. Sometimes it is a larger scope in area. For example, the crime might happen in one place of a house, but the scene is expanded to the entire home and property because the perpetrator may have left evidence behind in those zones too.

The Chain of Custody

It does not matter if a detective controls evidence and crime scenes if they do not maintain a chain of custody for the evidence collected. All evidence must be secured and packaged correctly. There is a strict chain of custody rule in place to ensure there is no potential for compromised evidence in any crime. In sex crimes, detectives will also oversee gathering evidence from the victim at the hospital – such as using a sex offense evidence collection kit.

Interviewing Potential Suspects

Sex crimes detectives will conduct interviews of potential suspects to rule them out or justify an arrest. The first person that a detective interviews is the victim. They may interview the victim multiple times before talking to a potential perpetrator.

Interviews are typically conducted at the police station, but detectives may go to the victim’s home or the perpetrator’s home to ask them questions.

If you are suspected of a crime or approached by a detective, you still have the right to request an attorney. Furthermore, you do not have to answer their questions if you are not under arrest.

Keeping Their Investigation Judgement-Free

Detectives cannot be biased. However, it is human to be biased. A detective’s attitude toward a case can gravely affect its outcome. They could focus in on a suspect without looking for other potential suspects – allowing the real perpetrator to get away with a crime. Furthermore, a detective may become emotionally attached to the outcome of a case, making it hard for them to review evidence subjectively.

Testifying in Court

If the evidence collected results in an arrest and the case goes to court, the detective’s job is not over. Instead, the detective will appear in court to testify. Typically, they are called as the prosecution’s witness to clarify the evidence collected, discuss interviews, and share their opinions on the crime.

Other times, the defense may call a detective to refute evidence or to question the detective’s methods. Some detectives will remain present in the courtroom during the trial while others only appear when requested.

Should You Contact an Attorney?

Even if you were wrongfully accused and you know that you are innocent, sex crimes are treated differently than others. Detectives are quicker to make judgments and are under social pressure to make an arrest. Therefore, you need an attorney there to protect you from an unfair investigation.

Furthermore, if you are arrested and your case goes to trial, you need someone with experience in handling these types of cases. A sex crime conviction creates long-term consequences – even if you never serve a day in prison. You will be required to register as a sex offender, may have to relocate, and your employment options will be limited.

To avoid these consequences, meet with an attorney from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices at 505-375-4661 or request an appointment online.