Is it Really Confidential?
es, the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center has the following policy : All information received by an agent of the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center is kept in strict confidence. The only time confidentiality will be broken is if we have knowledge or reason to believe that an individual is going to hurt themselves, or others, or that an individual is being or in eminent danger of being hurt by another. We will notify the appropriate people to get the survivor appropriate help and response
Also, we (agents of the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center) are mandated reporters and must follow the State of Maine guidelines. If we suspect child abuse we must report our suspicions to the Department of Health and Human Services and/or The District Attorney’s Office.
Do I have to report to the police?
No – a person that has reached the age of majority (18) and does not want to report does not have to report, and we, Sexual Assault Advocates, are held to confidentiality standards regarding your decision
If a person that was Sexually Assault has not reached the age of majority (17 and younger) there are specific guidelines that we must adhere to such as:
- If it is happening in the home or by a family member, we must report to the Department of Health and Human Services.
- If it is happening outside the home or family it is reported to the District Attorney’s Office.
This is called Mandated Reporting.
Who presses charges?
After you have filed a complaint to Law Enforcement and they have completed the investigation, it will then go to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
The District Attorney’s Office will look over the documents and make one of the following decisions:
- Charge the perpetrator with a crime – The District Attorney decides what and if charges will be brought. The perpetrator can either be arrested at this time or receive a summons to appear in court.
- Bring it in front of a Grand Jury – Grand Jury listens to the facts of the case from the investigator, the District Attorney and the victim. They will make a ruling on whether they feel there is enough evidence to indict the perpetrator or not.
- File — The file is held for a specific amount of time, if the perpetrator has no new misconduct for that amount of time, it is destroyed.
- Decline – This is when the District Attorney declines to take the case, this happens for many reasons: Including but not limited to….
- Not enough evidence
- Doesn’t meet the standard of criminal activity
- This does not automatically mean that the DA’s office does believe the victim, they are required to meet certain standards of law in order to bring a charge forward
Is the perpetrator going to be arrested?
This next step is determined by law enforcment and the DA’s office and is decided on a case by case basis.
Reasons why they may not be immediately arrested:
- People are much more willing to talk and co-operate if not under arrest
- The investigation is just starting and their may not be enough information
- Not enough evidence at the moment
- If you have questions regarding anything specific to reasons for no arrest, you may contact the SAC&SC to assist you in getting your questions answered.
Legal terms defined:
Accused: formally charged but not yet tried for committing a crime; the person who has been charged may also be called the accused.
Acquittal: a judgment of court, based on the decision of either a jury or a judge, that a person accused, is not guilty of the crime for which he has been tried.
Adjudication: the judicial decision that ends a criminal proceeding by a judgment of acquittal, conviction, or dismissal of the case.
Alleged: said to be true, but not yet proven to be true; until the trial is over, the crime may be called the “alleged crime,” for example.
Appeal: a request by either the defense or the prosecution that the results of decision on certain motions or of a completed trial be reviewed by a higher court.
Appearance: coming into court and submitting to the authority of that court.
Arraignment: the appearance in a court of an accused person at which the court may inform the accused of the charges against him, advise the accused of his/her rights, appoint a lawyer for the accused, and hear the plea of the accused.
Arrest: to take a person suspected of committing a crime into legal custody for the purpose of charging him with committing a specific crime, or for the purpose of beginning juvenile proceedings, if the suspect is a juvenile.
Arrest warrant: a document issued by a judicial officer which directs a law enforcement officer to arrest a person accused of committing a crime.
Bail: money or property promised or given to the court as security when an accused person is released before and during his trial with the agreement that the accused will return to court when ordered or forfeit the bail.
Bailiff: a uniformed officer who assists in keeping order in the courtroom.
Beyond a reasonable doubt: the degree of proof needed for a jury or judge to convict an accused person of a crime.
Complainant: the person who makes a formal criminal complaint; also, the victim of the crime described in the complaint.
Defendant: a person who has been formally charged with committing a crime.
Defense Attorney: the lawyer who represents the defendant in legal proceedings; victims are usually not required to speak with defense attorneys except in court.
Dismissal: a decision by a judicial officer to end a case.
Disposition: the final judicial decision which ends a criminal proceeding by a judgment, acquittal, dismissal, or which states the sentence if the accused is convicted.
Felony: a serious crime for which the punishment is usually imprisonment, usually in a state or federal prison, usually for one year or more.
Grand jury hearing: a legal process in which citizens selected and sworn to investigate criminal activity and the conduct of public officials and to hear the evidence against accused persons act as a jury to decide if there is probable cause to bring the accused to trial; unlike court trials, grand jury hearings are usually closed to the public, and their proceedings, by law, are secret.
Guilty: a verdict of a judge or jury that a person accused of committing a specific crime did commit it.
Guilty plea: a formal response by a person accused of committing a specific crime in which the accused says that the charges are true and he did commit the crime.
Indictment: a formal written accusation made by a grand jury and filed in a court, alleging that a specific person committed a specific crime.
Indigent: an accused person who has been found by the court to be unable to pay for his own attorney.
Information: a formal written accusation made by a prosecutor and filed in a court, alleging that a specific person committed a specific crime.
Investigation: the gathering of evidence by law enforcement officials (and in some cases prosecutors) for presentation to a grand jury or in a court to prove that the accused did commit the crime.
Jury waived trial: a trial in which the accused does not want a jury and asks the judge to hear the case and decide if the accused is guilty or not guilty.
Misdemeanor: a crime that is less serious than a felony and for which the punishment generally is imprisonment for one year or less, usually in a jail or other facility.
Perpetrator: a person who commits a crime.
Personal recognizance: the promise of an accused person to the court that he will return to court when ordered to do so; given in exchange for release before and during his trial.
Plea bargaining: an agreement between the prosecutor and the defense attorney that the defendant will plead guilty to a crime in exchange for some concession, commonly a lesser charge, the dismissal of other pending charges, or a recommendation by the prosecutor for a specific sentence.
Presentence report: document that details the past behavior, family circumstances and personality of an adult and gives information about the crime he committed; it is prepared by a probation agency or other authority in order to assist the court in determining the most appropriate sentence.
Probable cause: the degree of proof needed to arrest and begin prosecuting a crime; the proof must be such that a reasonable person would believe that this specific crime was committed and that it is probable that the person being accused committed it.
Probation: conditional freedom granted to an offender by the court after conviction or guilty plea with requirements for the offender’s behavior set and supervised by the court.
Prosecutor: an attorney for the community employed by a government agency to represent the interests of the general public, including crime victims, in court proceedings against people accused of committing crimes; some jurisdictions use other terms for the prosecutor, such as U.S. Attorney (a federal prosecutor), district attorney, or state’s attorney.
Release on bail: the release of an accused person by a judicial officer before and during the trial of an accused person upon the promise of the accused that he will pay a sum of money or property if he fails to return to court when ordered to do so.
Release on own recognizance: the release of an accused person by a judicial officer before or during the trial of the accused upon the promise of the accused that he will return to court when ordered to do so.
Release to a third party: the release of an accused person by a judicial officer before or during the trial or juvenile adjudication of the accused upon the promise of a third party that the accused will return to court when ordered to do so.
Restitution: money paid by a specific defendant to a specific victim as reimbursement for the loss the victim has suffered as a result of the crime. Restitution is court-ordered and is part of the sentence. Generally, this is for out-of-pocket expenses.
Rights of the defendant: the powers and privileges which are constitutionally guaranteed to any person arrested and accused of committing a crime: including the right to remain silent; the right to an attorney at all stages of the proceeding; the right to a court-appointed attorney if the defendant does not have the financial means to hire his own counsel; the right to release on reasonable bail; the right to a speedy public trial before a jury or judge; the right to the process of the court to subpoena and produce witnesses; the right to see, hear and question the witnesses during the trial; and the right not to incriminate himself.
Sentence: the punishment imposed by the court on a person convicted of a crime.
Sentencing: the legal process in which a defendant who has been found guilty of a crime hears in court what his punishment will be.
Sexual assault: broadly, any sexual act or attempted sexual act in which the victim is forced to participate by the threat or use of force or if the victim is under the age of fourteen.
Subpoena: a written order by a judicial officer requiring a specified person to appear in a designated court at a specific time and place in order to serve as a witness in a case or to bring material to court.
Trial: an examination of issues or fact and law before a judge and sometimes a jury at which the evidence is presented to determine whether or not the accused person is guilty of committing a specific crime.
Verdict: the decision of a judge or jury at the end of a trial that the accused defendant is either guilty or not guilty of the crime for which he has been tried.
Victim impact statement: a written or oral statement by a victim of the crime, physically, emotionally, and financially on their life.
Victim/Witness Advocate: a person who acts as a liaison between the prosecutors and victims of the crime. The victim/witness advocate usually provides information and support services to victims/witnesses and their families in order to reduce the trauma associated with proceeding through the criminal justice system.
Witness: a person who has directly seen an event, such as a crime, or thing, such as a piece of physical evidence, or who has other knowledge that is related to a court case.
Please remember – You do not have to do this alone, we will accompany you and help you along with this process. We can be reached through our Support line at 1-800-871-7741.